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Google News gets RSS and Atom feeds

Consumers can now subscribe to get customized RSS or Atom feeds and see the results of any Google News alerts set up.

Google has introduced RSS and Atom feeds for its popular Google News aggregation service.

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, and Atom are XML-based document formats that alert Internet users to the latest articles or postings on their favorite Web sites via a single feed reader, which can be integrated into an e-mail application or Web browser.

Google News users can now subscribe to get an RSS or Atom feed from any of seven key subject areas designated by Google. They can also create customized RSS news feeds or see the results of any Google News alerts they have set up.

Google News, which aggregates links to the latest news stories on thousands of Web sites, is available in 22 versions for different audiences around the world. The RSS and Atom feeds are being initially offered on just six versions--U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K. and India.

"We've launched this service because we've had a lot of requests from Google users to support RSS and Atom," a Google UK spokeswoman explained.

In April 2004, U.K. programmer Julian Bond said he received a cease-and-desist notice from Google after creating his own feed that scraped headlines off Google News. These headlines were then displayed on another Web site, called Ecademy.

Google UK declined to comment on this matter. (Google representatives in the U.S. have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

But Bond said Tuesday that the company took action because the results of his RSS feed from Google were being fed into online RSS aggregators and then republished on the Web.

"I was really irritated about Google not offering RSS feeds from (Google) News search. So I wrote a scraper that did the search and generated an RSS feed from it," explained Bond, who added that he welcomed the news that Google was now offering RSS and Atom feeds.

"It will mean that I can retire my scraper and stop having to maintain it every time Google changes their page layout," Bond said.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.