Murdoch Scores “Kleptomaniac” News Sites, Calls to Make Them Pay


Everyone says newspapers are dead (except in New York, city of seven dailies), but Rupert Murdoch has found a way to bring them back to life: making “aggregators and plagiarists” (presumably meaning sites like Google News and Drudge) pay the content-providing news orgs whose works they blurb on the internet.

“Large media organizations have been submissive in the face of the flat-earthers who insisted that all content should be free all the time,” said the News Corp head at a recent World Media Summit in China. “There are many readers who believe that they are paying for content when they sign up with an internet service provider, presuming that they have bought a ticket to a content buffet.”

But this “humbug of the e-establishment” will not stand:

“The Philistine phase of the digital age is almost over,” Murdoch said. “…if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators, the people in this hall, who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph.”

At the same Summit the Associated Press’s CEO, Tom Curley, seemed to agree: “Crowd-sourcing Web services such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook have become preferred customer destinations for breaking news,” he said. “We content creators must quickly and decisively act to take back control of our content.”

We’ll let you know if we gets a summons, or a bill, for telling you this. Meanwhile TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld, “temporarily lifting our ban on AP stories” — instituted in protest of AP’s litigious policy on quotations from their dispatches — to report Curley’s tirade, says it’s all about AP’s negotiations with Google over licensed content. “The AP is just so desperate for cash as its revenues begin to fade,” says Schonfeld, “that it doesn’t know whether to brandish a stick or a carrot.”

Maybe. But what about Murdoch, with his vast holdings? The Independent’s Jimmy Leach speculates on how things would go in a walled Murdoch garden: “So Murdoch’s papers fall off Google (still by far the route through the web for most people) and retreat behind their paid-for content models. So maybe Google loses a little lustre, but not much. But Murdoch loses his share of those 300 million clicks, and his web traffic plummets… Murdoch is telling Google, and the whole internet that they must change. It’s unlikely either will listen.” Photo (cc) World Economic Forum.