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Micropayments May Come to Google News

Google is working on a new micropayment platform for online news content derived from newspaper publishers. The idea isn't anything new: many news-oriented websites are currently offering paid subscriptions, including those that can be found in print. Google's new program, set to launch within a year, would generate revenue for local and national publishers and simplify the way they would charge for online content.

According to this 8-page document (PDF), Google has submitted the proposed payment platform to the Newspaper Association of America; the submittal is a response to the NAA's request to technology companies for some kind of revenue plan. Ultimately, the plan could be a sign that Google wants to mend its troubled relationship with the newspaper industry. In the past, Google has come under attack by newspapers for linking to their articles without payment. Google countered the complaints saying that Google News drives traffic to their websites.

But hopefully that's now all in the past. "Google believes that an open web benefits all users and publishers," the document reads. "However, 'open' need not mean free. We believe that content on the Internet can thrive supported by multiple business models--including content available only via subscription. While we believe that advertising will likely remain the main source of revenue for most news content, a paid model can serve as an important source of additional revenue. In addition, a successful paid content model can enhance advertising opportunities, rather than replace them."

Google's idea is based on a checkout system, and the company said that its Google Checkout platform can handle subscription payments for news sites although, in its current state, Google said that the process for merchants is "fairly rudimentary." The Nieman Journalism Lab, which published Google's proposal online, provides an in-depth examination of the proposal--and how it will benefit publishers--right here.