newspaper-stack[1] On Business Insider’s “Silicon Alley Insider” section, Eric Clemons and Nehal Madhani from the Wharton School make the provocative claim that, in order to protect newspapers, copyright laws need to be “strengthened” to give them a 24-hour head start—no aggregator is allowed to link to a story for 24 hours after its publication.

They seem to have bought into Rupert Murdoch’s stance that aggregators are, through their ruthless violation of copyright, killing newspapers rather than driving traffic to them. However, they do not provide any proof of this assertion, as Mike Masnick of Techdirt points out:

Revenue from those publications has been in decline for many years — well before Google and the internet existed. The biggest problem many of the bigger publications faced was taking on ridiculous debt loads. On top of that, most of them failed to provide value to their community, as competitors stepped in to serve those communities. That’s not about aggregators.

Masnick also notes that any and every paper has the power to block Google News easily and permanently, via the power of robots.txt.

It’s a bit odd, given all the uproar that’s been going on for so long, that you don’t really see many non-Murdoch papers doing that. Even the ones that do have paywalls, such as the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times, happily allow readers linked from Google News to bypass those paywalls altogether. If Google News is such a huge problem, why are any papers allowing it access at all? Why don’t they put their money where their mouths are?

Could it be they like getting traffic?


  1. The article says: no part of any story from any daily periodical could be reposted in an online aggregator, or used online for any use other than commentary on the article, for 24 hours; similarly, no part of any story from any weekly publication could be reposted in an online aggregator or for any use purpose other than commentary, for one week.

    I have to wonder… what counts as a “daily periodical?” Is this “copyright protection” to be limited to incorporated businesses listed somewhere as “journalism,” or does it include blogs? What about The Onion? Could sites that *want* to be linked in the blackout window somehow opt out of participation?

    (Couldn’t they just write a script that put a googleblock in robots.txt for the first 24 hours/week of the article, and then removed it when a certain amount of time had passed? That way, they get to set their own “agg-free” time window.)

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