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Confused Irish Newspaper Editorial Argues That Search Engines Need To Pay Newspapers

from the time-to-drop-the-irish-examiner dept

As a few folks sent in, recently the Irish Examiner newspaper had an editorial arguing that copyright law needs to be expanded because, of course, newspapers are suffering. Though, as you look at the details, whoever wrote the article appears to be quite confused:
The scale of the piracy is astounding. In 2010, while every media company in the country shed jobs and cut costs to the bone, a single search engine operating in Ireland offered around 150,000 newspaper articles that cost publishers an estimated €46.5m to generate. Last year that site offered more than 350,000 articles at a cost equivalent to more than €110m. And all without paying one cent to those who created those articles.

This free-for-all has put Ireland’s 8,600 creative enterprises, the 116,000 jobs involved — some 7.5% of GDP and 6.5% of total employment — under a darkening cloud. Multinational corporations, ironically styling themselves champions of free information having stolen it themselves, pretend that they see nothing wrong with hijacking the work of others. They do this to create entities that exist primarily, in a news context, to deliver rather than generate content. To rub salt into the wound these entities are determined to secure advertising revenue on the back of that snatched news content. This is the very revenue that made the gathering of the news possible in the first place.
First of all, they seem to be claiming that search engines that index content, show a snippet and link people to the original content are "piracy." That's crazy talk. Furthermore, while they don't name the "search engine" they claim that it "offered" these articles. Of course, if it really posted all the articles itself, then there is no need to change copyright laws -- the company could already sue them for infringement. However, assuming that they're really talking about Google or just about any other search engine, what they really mean is that the search engines aggregated the content and linked people back to the original. The "cost" to produce those articles is irrelevant to the overall discussion. Yes, it costs money, but it's the job of a business model to bring in even more money. If the business geniuses who run your paper are too clueless to figure out how to monetize the traffic from Google, then perhaps you deserve to go out of business.

In the end, as we've seen elsewhere, this isn't about "piracy" at all. This is about newspapers who don't know how to adapt, and are staffed by completely technologically illiterate folks, who simply see that Google is making money while they're struggling and assume (totally incorrectly) that Google needs to pay them for sending them traffic.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 8:28pm

    http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93708


    that will be 100 in consultancy fee's please :}
    or 1000 if you want me to do it for you :>

     

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  2.  
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    James O., Nov 13th, 2012 @ 8:53pm

    unfair trade

    "First of all, they seem to be claiming that search engines that index content, show a snippet and link people to the original content are "piracy." That's crazy talk. Furthermore, while they don't name the "search engine" they claim that it "offered" these articles. Of course, if it really posted all the articles itself, then there is no need to change copyright laws -- the company could already sue them for infringement. However, assuming that they're really talking about Google or just about any other search engine, what they really mean is that the search engines aggregated the content and linked people back to the original. The "cost" to produce those articles is irrelevant to the overall discussion. Yes, it costs money, but it's the job of a business model to bring in even more money. If the business geniuses who run your paper are too clueless to figure out how to monetize the traffic from Google, then perhaps you deserve to go out of business. "

    I find it fascinated that the author of this article can justify the theft of intellectual property and make a profit from it, and then complain that the author is entitled to nothing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:04pm

    Re: unfair trade

    You mean like how newspapers make millions from stealing intellectual property? Because if we follow that logic thats what they do.

     

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    Loki, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:10pm

    You know, back in the day when books and such had to have each copy handwritten, when there was no real medium for recorded music, and when it could takes weeks or months, if not years, for information to disseminate across the world, the need for copyright was a lot stronger than it is now.

    But even then, copyright was still limited to keep a good balance. Now, not only to the circumstances/limitations exists that made copyright in its original form exist, but it has been pushed so far in the direction of entitlement that a growing number of people consider it irrelevant all together.

    Authors, musicians, artist, scientists. These people are simply not all that special anymore. For every one that succeeds, mostly by chance, there are a good half a dozen that could rise to fill the hole should most of these people disappear. sure there will always be the exceptions to that rule, the likes of your Picassos, your Mozarts, your Einsteins, your Benjamin Franklins, but these people will always find ways to rise to the top of the pack regardless of any special entitlement they may or may not be given.

    For the most part, most of the copyright maximalists I've ever personally met are simply people who want to get paid as much money as possible while having to do as little work as possible and very similar in temperament to people I've met who milk and cheat the welfare system.

     

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    uncoveror (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:19pm

    Print is a dinosaur

    Why should an up and coming industry have to prop up one that is obsolete?

    "Multinational corporations, ironically styling themselves champions of free information having stolen it themselves..." Look who's talking

    Locking up ideas as property is just as much a form of censorship as suppressing them, and this clown is all for that kind of censorship, just like Hollywood and the recording industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:20pm

    You know I really wish google would just delist them and see how they like it.

     

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    Aileron, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:56pm

    New newspapers of the future

    Having a headline in a news search is not infringing anyone's copyright, its providing a link for the user to choose. Essential net marketing.

    However, displaying too much text from the content, may stop users from needing to go to the site to read the full article. It then becomes an argument over how much text or media should be displayed by google. In this aspect newspapers are absolutely right to claim it is appropriation of their content. But even on this level most marketers would understand that massive online exposure is the only way to gain an online audience.

    Google or any other search engine is never going to pay newspapers, its a total flip on their own business model. So the newspaper world needs to understand where internet revenue actually comes from and adapt, or go back to selling hardcopy only. They need to think about creating an entirely new business model. Check this blog article from an insiders pov on newspaper thinking. http://alert.sqwark.me/?p=178

     

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    Keii (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 9:59pm

    Every single time a company complains in this manner, all search engines should just remove them from their listing entirely.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 10:09pm

    Re: unfair trade

    First off, it's not theft and nobody is "justifying" it. That requires something they already had being lost. If pointing out how the internet works is justifying theft, then don't look up the term "internet" in Wikipedia, they justify theft a lot! Secondly, it's not property. Property is rivalrous. Information is not rivalrous. Thirdly, nobody said the author is entitled to nothing. It was said that they should use a smarter business model because the one they have is full of holes you can drive a bus through.

    Do you purposely misread what is written and jump to conclusions that have been proved false repeatedly? I love (i.e. I hate) how you people take anything said that isn't "they're thieves!" as tacit, implicit support of an imaginary crime. Everything you rail against is based in pure bullshit. The data on file sharing in relation to whom buys content makes it quite clear that the industry's biggest customers are the very people they vilify and treat worse than actual thieves, murderers, and rapists. Were it not for file sharing, fewer people would even be aware of the content the industry is trying to sell to them and that means fewer customers. So let me put it bluntly: File sharing increases the customer base. Call them thieves if you like, but know that you're abusing the people that spend the most money on your offerings.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

    I clicked on the link back to the Irish Examiner to read the full article

    and funny enough, no place to leave comments about their article. Obviously not interested in feedback from readers inside or outside Ireland.
    Even funnier, on the webpage there's a column of advertisements powered by Google's AdSense.
    Of course, would work better if the ads were Irish related instead of mortgage refinancing. Such as tourism, hotels, car rentals,etc.

     

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    techflaws (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 10:40pm

    Re: unfair trade

    What I find fascinating is the audacity of newspapers demanding to get paid for the traffic Google send them for free.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Nov 13th, 2012 @ 10:47pm

    Re: unfair trade

    I find it fascinating that people have to lie about and distort the very words they're quoting in order to find anything to attack. You made 3 claims here in a single sentence, all of them lies.

    No theft is taking place.
    The author of this article is not making a profit from "theft" even if you disagree with the first point.
    Nobody's saying that the newspaper is entitled to nothing at all - they just aren't entitled payment from the people sending them free advertising and traffic.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2012 @ 11:16pm

    Re:

    You missed the part about them being technologically illiterate!

     

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    topr, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 12:23am

    Re:

    Well, its a loss for Google and they might be placed at a disadvantage with other search engines.

     

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    Lizzardborn, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 1:23am

    robots.txt - they can stop being indexed any second they want.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 1:37am

    Re: I clicked on the link back to the Irish Examiner to read the full article

    "Of course, would work better if the ads were Irish related instead of mortgage refinancing. Such as tourism, hotels, car rentals,etc."

    That's probably because AdSense checked your IP address, saw you were from outside Ireland and thus, offered you ads relevant to your location.
    I'm in Ireland and I've loaded the page, and gotten a few Irish-targeted ads.

     

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    Hanno, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 1:47am

    In Germany, this debate is running for a while

    I'm from Germany and we have this debate for quite a while. Our government wants to create a so-called "Leistungsschutzrecht", which should force google to pay for indexing news content (although not for "normal" search content, which is kinda strange, but it indicates that people at least understood that they cannot forbid search engines at all). It's outright stupid and lots of people fear the implications might me damning, making every link someone sets a possible risk.
    What they always fail to mention: They can opt out of google indexing them, but that's not what they want. Once someone said something wise: Every article about the "Leistungsschutzrecht" without the mentioning "robots.txt" should not be considered serious.

    What I find frightening is that although this is so crazy it shouldn't be worth a serious discussion, this debate seems to go international now. Recently France announced similar plans.

     

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  18.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 2:05am

    Re:

    Thing is the copyright was never, ever, about the creators. It started out as a replacement to the publishing guild system in England after the civil war because the guild system was based on a monopoly granted by the crown in exchange for censorship.

    Members of the guild used to simply sort out who would print want between them self's and any one who was not a member of the guild was shut down. Faced with the loss of the crown and the fact the new parliament wanted to do away with past censorship (shock!) the publishers in the guild lobbied for the idea of a publishers "right" to create copy. The idea that this right was inherent to the creator of a work was only really a way of making sure tat right could be transferred to the publishers who could then use those rights to stop just any one publishing what ever the hell they liked. The publishers who used to be in the guild then pretty much just carried on like they did.

    When American set down the ability to create copyright laws it was with the intent of using limited protection as a incentive to help ensure a turn over of science (and later art) that could enter the public domain and enrich the society.

    Protection of artists was always secondary but over time the means (that protection) has become the ends (to protect) at the expense of those the current raft of laws was actually produced to support (the public).

    Law change to reflect the values of society so the change as change isn't automatically a bad thing but again it's a change that has been at the behest of publishers which is right in line with the history of the laws. Society did not come to think that people have a unending right to control the copying of their created works and move the laws to reflect that. Publishers have lobbied for laws that benefit them by selling that idea to the public. A lot of people now accept this view simply because the laws have been changed in a way they are told reflects that as a "truth".

    The funny thing is that the industry has come to believe in it's own propaganda. You just have to look at the insidious way that "intellectual property" has wormed it's way in to law. It's a term that was first used by a pro copyright expansion groups that was adopted as a catch all term for a set of legal ideas, so when new wording in changed laws was put in place the term starts to be used even if there is no , as far as I know, place that Intellectual Property is legally defined as it's own term.

    The use of IP was a way to frame the debate about copyright in a pro copyright manner and that term has now become a basic way in which we talk about these ideas.

    Like you say copyright today has been expanded simply due to greed and not even on the part of the actual creators, creators have been conned in to thinking that industry is looking after their interests and so they stand and shout and fight to protect the people who most actively want to screw them. It's sad.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 2:21am

    Pirate IRL?

    What I want to know is what are they going to do about the newspaper and magazine pirates IRL?

    You know the ones, you have this big shop engine called WH Smith, and these pirates, they go in and they browse the headlines and articles that are just all sitting there, indexed on the shelves.

    These shop engines, so called 'newsagents', are really just ripping off the publishers by letting people come in and browse the newspapers and magazines without even clicking in their wallet to buy them.

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 3:07am

    If they are that strapped for cash

    Why not also ask the newspaper delivery boys and girls to pay for their right to deliver the newspaper to the people.
    After all they are providing people access to something that the newspaper people spent millions on to create.

    Moronic Irish columnist is moronic.

    If you provide access to your newspaper on your website, then don't be surprised when people use it to gain access to your newspaper on your website!
    And whether these visitors come from search engines or -heaven forfend- other sites (Oh My Gosh, there are other sites out there?! They must pay us too!) or by directly entering your web-address into their browsers, it shouldn't matter.
    You serve them ads, and allow people to click through to next stories so that they can be served more ads. You know, finding ways to monetize your own newspaper content. It's the content that drives the visitors, and it's the ads that make you money.

     

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  21.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 3:10am

    Re: unfair trade

    I find it fascinating that you, according to your rules, committed 'theft of intellectual property' by quoting part of the article. When are you going to pay Mike? I'm sure he'll be waiting at his mailbox for your cheque.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 3:39am

    Given these cases keep popping up, with newspapers wanting an advertiser to pay them, google should really throw together a standard response to deal with cases like this.

    Something like this:

    1. Newspaper starts to complain that google is 'stealing' revenue from them for posting snippets of articles and linking back to them.
    2. Google immediately drops the complaining newspaper, and any links to it, from their service.
    3. If the newspaper wants to be re-listed, they merely have to sign a free, legally binding agreement that they will not pursue legal action against google for posting links to their content in the future.
    4. Newspaper either signs and gets re-listed, or refuses to do so and stays unlisted, as well as having a child-level, simple language guide to keeping their site from being indexed in the future via "robots.txt" sent to them.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 3:40am

    Of course Google is violating their copyright by reproducing the headline, and should pay for that right. This fits with the maximalist position that any quote from any copyrighted work is a copyright violation, at least when it is convenient means of attacking perceived competitors.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    I worked hard starting a retail business, the pirates in the government who build roads built a road to my competitors, and now I'm losing money.

    I'm suing the government for piracy! And I'm getting my competitor to join me in that law suit from all the customers he's lost to me thanks to that same pirate road!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    Re: unfair trade

    First off, you mean you find it FASCINATING. Secondly, if you actually read and were capable of comprehending (which you obviously aren't able to do) the part you did quote, you'd see at no point in that quote did the author of the article justify the theft of intellectual property. In point of fact, they clearly pointed out what exactly a search engines does. Which is index content already available on the internet, in this case newspaper articles, show a tiny snippet as part of the relevant search results, and then direct people to the actual site where the article came from. Which in the case of newspaper articles is to the websites of the newspapers themselves.

    As for profiting from indexing the web, I fail to see how that is wrong, much less illegal in any way, shape or form. It isn't, just fyi.

    What we have here, and what you fail to notice, is that the newspapers are failing to properly monetize their online sites. But they see that companies like Google who merely index the web are profiting greatly (from ads) and feel they are entitled to a cut of the profits because their content gets indexed as well. So basically, they want a cut of the profits without doing any of the work. Said work in this case being EFFECTIVELY monetizing the content per relevant user searches.

    As it pertains to your comment, the authors are very much entitled to nothing. Insofar as profits from search results go. They have not contributed to Google's algorithms which list results or prioritize it per people's wants/needs. Which is the only way they would/should be entitled to ANY profits made from search engine results.

    If I write something it is MY job and no one else's to effectively monetize and capitalize off of said writing. If someone list my writing in a search result and sends people directly to my website to view the rest then at that point any/all responsibilities for generating a revenue stream fall upon me. No one else. I'm sure that may be difficult for you to grasp, but in life their are very seldom any hand-outs. You want something, you work for it. You want profits from your news stories, you figure out how to monetize them yourself.

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Re: In Germany, this debate is running for a while

    Drowning people grab whoever is near as they go down.

     

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    Kirion (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Isn't like every single large IT company has Irish office? I wonder how they feel about such claims from newspapers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    Re:

    But then they couldn't try to get money from Google.

     

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    Ellie (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    Re: Copyright distortion

    This, I believe is so very true:
    "...copyright was limited to keep a good balance. Now... it has been pushed so far in the direction of entitlement that a growing number of people consider it irrelevant all together."
    25 years ago, I considered going to school to be a patent attorney rather than study math and engineering. I was told that patent law was the least lucrative, most difficult type of law, with few job opportunities and poor career prospects. Clearly, something has changed, and not for the better. There was plenty of technological innovation from 1900 through 1990, so it isn't as though there was no need for patent law and copyright then!

     

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    Ellie (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Re: Copyright distortion

    @Loki I don't feel so certain about this though:
    Authors, musicians, artist, scientists. These people are simply not all that special anymore. For every one that succeeds, mostly by chance, there are a good half a dozen that could rise to fill the hole should most of these people disappear.
    They ARE special, now just as in the past. In the past, the exceptional, productive ones weren't necessarily compensated or recognized for their work. Unfortunately, I don't think copyright law is particularly effective for that purpose either, not any longer. Rather, it seems like peripheral interests siphon off a lot, away from the original content creators.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 7:52am

    typical Irish. never did have any sense!

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Re: New newspapers of the future

    However, displaying too much text from the content, may stop users from needing to go to the site to read the full article.


    This is true in theory, but I don't see much of this effect in practice, except from the crowd that only reads the headlines anyway.

    There are two easy things that newspapers can do to combat this, though. They can make their sites less painful to read, and they can engage in compelling, real journalism that produces stories that cannot be adequately summarized in a short snippet.

    There is a different effect, though, that I find happens a lot with me: the snippet provides enough of a feel for the article that I can more accurately determine whether or not it's worth reading the whole thing. Often, it's not. I wonder if it's this that the newspapers really fear.

    Google or any other search engine is never going to pay newspapers, its a total flip on their own business model.


    Not only that, but it also makes no logical, legal, or moral sense.

     

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    TroutFishingUSA, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Re: Print is a dinosaur

    What ideas are being locked up? Copyright covers expressions.

     

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    TroutFishingUSA, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re: Pirate IRL?

    Your attempt at humor is clouding the salient point in your analogy.

    These shop engines, so called 'newsagents', are really just ripping off the publishers by letting people come in and browse the newspapers and magazines without even clicking in their wallet to buy them.


    Incorrect. The newsstand owner buys the magazines and newspapers outright. He may be letting himself get ripped off (though, anyone who has tried to loiter at a newsstand reading copy is probably familiar with being chased off by the owner), but the publishers have already been paid.

    Your analogy, likening search engines to newsstands actually makes the exact opposite point you're intending. If Google is like a newsagent, then they should buy the "information" they're distributing like everybody else.

    I don't agree with ^^that^^ point, necessarily; I'm just sick of everybody spitting out analogies rather than simply discussing the matters at hand like intelligent adults.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: New newspapers of the future

    The reality is that by displaying a small blurb of an article diverts viewers to an aggregator from the newspaper, the article isn't very good.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: New newspapers of the future

    Oops.

    Is that IF displaying...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    Search engines only?

    Shouldn't the same principle apply to anyone who quotes an article an refers back to it? So if I tell people about an article I read, and encourage them to go to the newspaper site and read it, do I have to pay the newspaper?

    Makes perfect sense, right?

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: New newspapers of the future

    If a "small blurb" is enough to divert a reader then the newspaper is already in a bad position and Google didn't put them there.

    As soon as the first cable news network went online, the days of news print were numbered.

     

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    Bernard Swiss, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    By this logic

    the phone-book company should be paying shop owners and other businesses for the privilege of listing those enterprises in the yellow pages.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Nov 14th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Copyright distortion

    "They ARE special..."

    No more so than anyone else.

    Who is more important? Dr. performing a kidney transplant or the driver delivering the replacement kidney?

     

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    Ellie (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 9:01am

    Newspapers as viable businesses

    Search engines are not the villains. The Irish newspapers are flailing in frustration with the approaching demise of print media and independent third-party news reporting and journalism. Well, that's my (presumptuous) guess. The copyright concern is something of a red herring (false flag?)... but it is short-sighted to dismiss newspapers as irrelevant, because they haven't evolved and adapted to a profitable business model in a digital, internet era. Remember the idea of public good.

    Newspapers and media, biased as some may be, DO have standards of journalistic integrity. Reporters have a code of ethics they must uphold, else they will be fired. I read this article a few days ago, in a tech publication. It expressed regret that independent third-party news and information sources would soon be a thing of the past. The author said that while preferable, they were not viable businesses. As a replacement, CISCO has already hired over 1,000 news writers and Nissan (Toyota) has done the same. They won't be neutral, by their own admission. Corporate news media, as in "CISCO News" or "Nissan News" (not as part of a holding company, but rather, tightly integrated within the corporation) isn't a scenario I look forward to.

    Google doesn't need to save the newspaper industry, isn't morally or ethically bound to do so. Yet someone, somewhere, should consider it carefully. I don't know who, I have no ideas about that, nor what can be done.

     

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    Kevin (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Newspapers on the wrong track

    I was once an avid newspaper reader. I stopped my subscription because the quality of journalism has hit rock bottom.
    The actual news is no longer relevant. Most news is old hat by the time it is published. Today's journalists appear to think by expanding the news report, often padding out an article with irrelevancy, makes for good journalism.
    I want opinions. I want to read hard hitting analysis of today's issues. I want the political bias removed. I want the truth about what is happening. I want the newspapers to be like wikileak.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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