Google ( GOOG) launched a news search service that claims to go back centuries.

The Google News Archive search provides a chronological listing of stories, some of which date to the 1700s. The service lets users comb through the archives of major news organizations including the flagship publications of the New York Times ( NYT), Washington Post ( WPO), Forbes and the Financial Times.

People will be able to see a snippet of the article on Google for free. They will then be directed to the sites of the content providers, where they may be charged a fee to see the full story.

The service underscores Mountain View, Calif.-based Google's desire to be seen as a friend to traditional media companies, which at times have fought the search engine's efforts to index their content without their permission.

Agence France Presse, the French news service, filed a copyright infringement suit over the issue in U.S. District Court last year, according The Wall Street Journal. Book publishers also objected to Google's book-scanning project.

Relations between Google and the traditional media have been warming lately.

Earlier this month, the company reached an agreement with the Associated Press to use the wire service's content, according to InfoWorld. Traditional publishers, who are struggling as ad dollars shift online, are no doubt welcoming the new sources of revenue that Google may offer.

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