A Freelancer’s Open Letter To Google

Dear Google,

I know that on your Googleplex in Mountain View, you have some of the best minds in the world. I am hoping that you can come up with a way for your supremely powerful search engine to make it possible for writers to make a living again by re-selling the same content.

You might not have realized, but it used to be the case, in the days of print journalism, that writers and artists could syndicate their stuff. You could focus on writing one really great piece a week, or maybe two, and sell the same piece to different publications. Sometimes publications paid more for exclusive rights or first rights, but this was between the artist and the publication.

Let’s face it, we didn’t get rich doing this – but we could make a living. It was good for readers, too: if writers and designers could spend more time working on a single piece of content, that content was better. The system was largely self-regulating. Writers didn’t sell the same piece to publications that reached the same market and publishers didn’t buy them; that just wouldn’t make sense.

Why can’t that same system work in the search world, too, where readers frequent their own favorite sites?

Instead, the rules of search engines mean that sites get penalized in the search engine rankings for running content that has run elsewhere.

We can’t sell, say, a piece on moose hunting to Montana magazine and to Conde Naste Traveler, even though it’s unlikely that the two magazines share any readers.

We understand that the rules are supposed to benefit web publishers by making it so that content aggregators have a hard time ripping off original content. But it’s had this bad side effect on the creators of content, effectively reducing the outlets where we can sell.

Can somebody at Google please take a look at this? Isn’t it possible to solve both problems at once? Can’t Google, say, give all of us working writers a way to tag our content, so that we decide where it runs and how often?

Thanks in advance,

Freelancers aspiring to make a living

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