In brief: Few internet users enjoy running into paywalls while browsing the web, which is why we don't use them here at TechSpot. However, some sites arguably need them to stay afloat, which creates a bit of conflict between readers and publishers. To help remove some of that friction, Google is partnering up with "select news publishers" to remove these paywalls, with several caveats.
We'll get to those restrictions in a moment, but first, a quick breakdown about what this program is. In short, Google will pay partnered news publishers in exchange for them lifting their respective paywalls for the search giant's users as we just said. However, those users will still have to register with the news publishers in question, which will help the latter "build a relationship" with readers.
Now, on to the fine print. First, and most importantly, this program will not be available everywhere right away. The only countries with publishers Google has chosen to partner with (for now) are Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, the UK, and Australia -- notably, the US is absent from this list, as are many other major countries.
Google's "example of how the paywall experience may look" via News Showcase.
Second, you have to go through Google's currently mobile-exclusive News Showcase service to dodge these paywalls, so not every article will support this paywall-lift. A publisher may choose to group only a select portion of its articles into a paywall-free showcase -- these could be articles that all focus on a particular topic or ongoing story, just to name an example.
If you're thinking that this is an awful lot of restrictions just to read a few articles, you probably aren't alone, but it is, at the very least, a step in the right direction. Ultimately, it's a win for everyone: Google wins because it'll funnel more users through its News platform, publishers win because they'll get valuable sign-ups as well as payments, and readers win because they can finally bypass some of those pesky paywalls.
However, only time will tell whether or not this fresh News Showcase feature will stick around or expand to additional countries and publishers. However, for the sake of a more open internet, we hope it does.
Image credit: Big Tuna Online