Adam Penenberg: This time of year, columnists tend to put on their prognostication caps and tell readers what they think will happen next year.

1. Google News should become a for-profit enterprise

Google should place ads on its Google News service so publishers can unleash a spate of cease-and-desist letters claiming copyright infringement. That way the courts can get down to determining what is “fair use” when it comes to posting headlines and lead paragraphs (or mere portions of them) on the internet — something that blogs frequently do.

The problem is that as soon as Google posts advertising on its free news site, publishers will scream about Google earning money off of their content. This is why the publishers license it in the first place. It’s inevitable that the courts will have to declare just exactly what constitutes “fair use” on the internet, and the sooner the better. This would be the ideal test case.

Of course, Google may have other plans. A recent article noted that company co-founder Larry Page has filed a patent application called “Method for searching media,” that, if implemented, would set up a profit-sharing system with consenting publishers, based, in part, on click-through ad revenue and pay-per-view document searches, not unlike’s “search inside the book” feature.

But what the internet needs are rules governing what you can and can’t take from pre-existing content — and only sound case law can provide that.

2. Bloggers should break news

Bloggers had a great year. Merriam-Webster, the venerable dictionary publisher, even declared “blog” — “noun (short for Weblog) (1999) : a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer” — as the No. 1 word of the year, based on the number of online lookups. Bloggers were the big story at the Democratic Convention and were the prime reason that CBS News was forced to retract a story on President Bush’s military service, when it came to light that documents Dan Rather relied on were ostensibly forgeries.

But bloggers need to do more than ruminate over their daily fix of spoon-fed media. They shouldn’t just act as media parasites, ripping apart content lifted from online newspapers, websites, TV and radio. It’s time for them to uncover their own news.