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Google scraps newspaper-scanning project

Unlocking the historical archives of newspapers dropped off Google's priority list. Instead, the priority is now One Pass, a Google-based subscription plan.

Google has scrapped a service to let people search older newspapers it scanned.
Google has scrapped a service to let people search older newspapers it scanned. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google might have near-boundless ambition, but every now and then it throws in the towel. The most recent example: a project to scan newspapers for publication online.

"Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at, but we don't plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing," Google told Search Engine Land in a story published today.

The newspaper-scanning project fit neatly into Google's mission, "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." With Android, Google Apps, video rental, and music streaming now a big deal at Google, that original mission looks increasingly like a snapshot of the company's early days than a full reflection of its current priorities.

Google apparently told newspaper partners of its decision yesterday. "News Archive was generally a good deal for newspapers--especially smaller ones like ours, who couldn't afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to digitally scan and index our archives--and a decent bet for Google," said one of those partners, the Boston Phoenix.

Instead, Google told the Phoenix that it's focusing on "newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites."

The paper also said Google is waiving the fee it had planned to charge newspapers to purchase the digital scans, including rights to use it elsewhere with other partners.

Google had hoped to sell ads to help support the effort.