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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Murdoch: you're stealing my stories « Previous | |Next »
November 9, 2009

The Sky News interview with Rupert Murdoch by David Speers is below. In it Murdoch mentions his opposition to fair use. He reckons that it can be challenged and changed in the courts. I presume that means applying copyright to news.

Murdoch has an old-fashioned vision of the value of journalism and one core message is that he is determined to ensure that the ABC and BBC pay for using News Corp's stories. Currently, the public broadcasters are amongst the:

people who simply pick up everything to run with, and steal our stories ... they just take them .. without payment ... If you look at them [BBC] most of their stuff is stolen from the newspapers now, and we'll be suing them for copyright.

He's sabre rattling on this. All Google News offers is a headline and a link to via a click over to one of his sites. That’s theft? Stealing? Murdoch gave what to Google? A headline where people could go to his web sites for more information. However, Murdoch really does want to hobble the ABC and the BBC. They need to be shrunk to limit what they place in the public domain so that News Corp can make more money from its online products.

Everybody's going to pay me for my content is the other core message from Murdoch. Of course, nothing was said by Murdoch about his media organizations making use of fair use of the work of others for their stories (eg., the images of the Sydney dust storm) Nothing at all. It's his entitlement, as it were, including ripping off Four Corners.

From Rupert's perspective everybody is just stealing from Rupert. It's piracy. End of story. He sounds just like the old music industry. Even if he understands how markets work, the 'piracy' implies copyrighted content. But news is not copyright. It does appear that he has joined Big Content's 'anti-piracy' campaign. For Murdoch we can have the first paragraph of his quality editorials and scintillating commentary for free. If you want anything else, then you pay.

On the fair use message Murdoch does not reckon that he should consider fair use of his content, which allows for limited use of copyrighted materials without permission so that we can put our content into the public domain. Fair use for Murdoch is the right to hire the lawyer.He doesn't like it so he'll be abolishing it shortly. So how is Murdoch going to kill off fair use through the courts? What is left for the public domain after the threat of potential legal action for 'copyright infringement'?

Fair use is a statutory exemption to the rights of copyright owners and there are four key factors that help decide whether use of copyrighted material constitutes fair use: (1) the purpose of your use, (2) the nature of the work, (3) the amount you're using, and (4) the effect of your use on the market. Copyright, despite its name, came into being as a set of liberties for the public as well as a set of rights for the author. The three most important liberties are the liberty to use ideas, the liberty to use facts and the liberty to make a fair use of expression from prior works.

It is difficult for people to use all of the liberties that the law provides because you need to have the physical, financial and emotional wherewithal to use them. You know the old line, “the rich and the poor are equally free to sleep under bridges”? However, you don't need a lawyer to take advantage of some of the liberties provided by copyright. Hence the idea of the creative commons with its Web.2 ethos of share, remix and reuse. It is this culture that Murdoch is opposed to.

He has little concern for public good function. His strategy is that the more he can choke off the internet as a free news medium, the more publishers he can get to join him, then the more people he can bring back to his papers, and the more people he can get to pay for use of his content. The internet for Murdoch is a toll booth with him in the collector's seat.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:12 PM | | Comments (18)



I really don't see the problem. Go ahead! Put mo$t of the New$ Ltd $tuff behind a firewall. No great loss to humanity.

I agree.
Go ahead Rupert, make my day.

News ltd is going back to the future. The closed garden never worked for Ozemail or AOL.

With fair use we appear to be back to the 18th century debate; back to the battle between creators' rights and the publishing industry, back to the battle of limited protections versus what seems like protection in perpetuity once again.

fair use is under threat in academe from the publishers. There is fear, uncertainty and misinformation dominating the discourse of copyright and intellectual property. Fair Use has become one of the most vexing issues in today's academic landscape eg., as educators, what are our rights and responsibilities when working with copyrighted media (images, audio, video) under the current copyright regime?

actually following through and removing News Corp's sites from Google would be a huge step for Murdoch to take. I will wait and see.

Isn't Google News, by pointing people towards Murdoch's properties, helping him?

Murdoch's retort is that "there isn't enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable".
Murdoch also says that all the eyeballs in the world are just that, eyeballs, and nothing more. They are non-payer eyeballs, and eyeballs that never really make it to your site because they stayed somewhere else to read the headlines are all useless eyeballs.The advertisers for the most part don't want them.

Google is bigger and more profitable than News Corporation, therefore they are also more powerful. The fortunes of Google are rising, News Corps' are falling.

If other news organisations hadn't copied news created by NEWS CORP then George W Bush would never have been President of the United States.

If News Corp builds a firewall around its stories then we will shift to Al Jezeera or another news source outside Rupert's control.

He has decided to rebuild the Berlin Wall and expects people will want to pay to enter East Berlin. LOL

One wag over at LP responded News Corpse.

Fair use and the paywall proposition are different things.

The plan appears to be to charge consumers for content (all content according to that interview, not just the value-added stuff we've been hearing about) and also charge other outlets like the ABC (fair use).

If the ABC continues to parrot News Ltd, taxpayers will be paying for the ABC and for the ABC's subscriptions to News Ltd, and for whatever fair use charges News Ltd wants on top of that. Does the ABC still have the resources to produce its own news, or will it funnel cash into Rupertville?

When does the Coalition of ABC Haters leave the ABC board?

I reread the post. It did mix up fair use and the paywall proposition----Murdoch had a core message on each, which I mixed up. Thanks. I've rewritten the post to make the two issues clearer.

Murdoch can probably make his paywall work for his mainstream and editorial content in order to monetise digital. Advertising by itself doesn't seem to be the way it's going--doesn't provide enough revenue to run the newspapers. The huge traffic doesn't mean revenue.

I guess Murdoch's strategy is to persuade for us to his websites directly, which he hope will become a habit. He will lose some people. However, he knows that viewers that go directly to and other newscorp sites will be visitors that are far more engaged and committed to their site. That is more attractive to advertisers. Bingo.

Will that be enough audience (attention really) that keeps paying the bills and increasing profit?

"However, he knows that viewers that go directly to and other newscorp sites will be visitors that are far more engaged and committed to their site. That is more attractive to advertisers. Bingo."

Hey!!! It's a win-win then! Rabid NewsCorp fans pay for the pleasure, and the rest of us are left in peace.

Isn't "fair use" only an issue if there's something actually worth using? Or if there's no alternative/independent methods of news gathering?


I thought the original post was a fair reflection of Murdoch's garbled response overall. It's an interview with Rupert Murdoch, incredibly powerful media mogul, who's quite confused about what's going on.

His response to questions about Google removed my doubts about his failure to come to grips with reality.

How are you going to direct people to your site if all the other links go to viewable sites but yours don't?

You might be able to impose fair use costs on organisations and institutions, but how will you prevent ordinary people with subscriptions from sharing?

He waffled on about quality a lot at the start, which suggests that he's unaware of the quality available outside of his empire, and that even his most reputable products have taken a credibility hit.

Those points alone are enough to ensure profits will keep sliding.

He's treating it as just another technological development without understanding the cultural shift.

Here's Murdoch's Fox News Politics Buzztracker stealing content from his competitors including the NY Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and others. According to Murdoch Fox's Buzz tracker is based on "parasiting" off every other site, and pulling them all together.

Now I am sure that there probably are more examples of various News Corp. institutions regularly doing exactly what Murdoch and the other News Corp. execs are now decrying as illegal and which must be stopped.

A pay wall for Murdoch's broadsheets would all be fine.. were it not for the BBC and the ABC Why would anyone pay for news when both public broadcasters provide it for free (and with audio/visual knobs on)? The only possible differentiator for the newspapers is comment, but as the Guardian would say Comment is Free

Murdoch could well be jawboning

It may not be possible for a old, large media company to remake themselves for the new, much smaller entrepreneurial media world.There is a lot of shutdown cost and pain involved re plant and equipment.

re Mudoch jawboning.He is about 'theft'.There is nowhere in Google News where Google is reprinting Murdoch’s content. Where’s the free stuff I get from Murdoch on Google News?I don’t get anything free there. I get nothing reprinted there. I get a link, where I then click over to one of his sites. That’s theft? Piracy?

Danny Sullivan says:

If you’re seen as a threat to quality journalism, as someone who oversees another part of your empire (Fox News) that the White House is trying to dismiss as a news organization, what better way to be seen as a journalism champion than to speak out as if you’re protecting all journalism from the evil of Google? Build Google up as the real threat to journalism. Suddenly, other media execs who viewed you as the “bad boy” of the journalism world are now looking at you with new found respect

Or they don't know how Goggle's aggregation works. My guess is that Murdoch is making a lot of noise in the hopes of getting Google to cut a deal to include News Corp content. He wants to be listed, and he wants to be paid to be listed.

News Corp's other position is that News Corp could survive without the Google traffic and, in fact, that it didn’t have much value.Jonathan Miller, News Corp’s chief digital officer, says:

“The traffic which comes in from Google brings a consumer who more often than not read one article and then leaves the site. That is the least valuable of traffic to us… the economic impact [of not having content indexed by Google] is not as great as you might think. You can survive without it.”

Newspapers get 25 percent of their traffic from search engines.The pain might be worth it if the group was able to force Google into a licensing agreement, which many publishers seem to believe bestows some publishers with riches from Google.

Murdoch could be trying to put together a Hulu of news---he can corral the top 100 news sources to boycott Google News and create Hulu for Newspapers. So we have a a PR campaign, in advance, repeated over a long time, to explain to the public that content creation is expensive and must be paid for and the main reason that have been receiving the news for free is because Google and its ilk are “taking” their property

If he does create a Hulu of news, then the newspaper collective can then feel they now have more control in that they are driving people to their own news portal/search engine. Then they’ll need to convince us all to pay $100 to $200 per year to access those stories, so that they’re retaining value because they’ve magically made news disappear from Google (and I suppose from Yahoo and Bing) through blocking.

However, a paid HuluNews that boycotts the news aggregators only works if it renders the free Google News product “not viable” due to its lack of the necessary content to meet the public’s demand for “what’s today’s news. That leaves the BBC and ABC.