Most of you will be familiar with Google reader as a way to keep up to date with publications you like, from one location. Google has now added functionality to the reader that is intended to improve the engagement of its users. It’s called Google reader play and presents items in a visual way, one at a time with a full-screen picture. You can navigate through stories with a next-arrow on the page or by clicking on an item on a filmstrip. If you like a subject you can click on the title or image to find the underlying content.
The functionality learns your preferences over time and you can influence its future choice by clicking the ‘”like” button. You can also browse content via categories. The functionality is still in beta (test) phase and requires no registration or Google account unless you want to rate, like or share content. Reader play aggregates content from the web using the same technology as the regular reader.
For photography owners this raises the question of rights. Google has been battling with news-owners for some time now about the right to publish excerpts of text in the reader and elsewhere. Google’s position is that it pushed traffic to the source of the information, content owners say Google is stealing content and then monetizing it. With pictures this seems an even bigger issue as Google is not using excerpts but the full picture.
Should this content be properly licensed, or are photographers set to benefit in other ways?