Rupert Murdoch and Fairfax Media move closer to putting up pay walls
News Corp's executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, who already charges for online content at the Wall Street Journal and is set to start charging at London's The Times website from June, says publishers must find ways to prevent search engines such as Google and Microsoft Bing from linking to stories for free.
"It's produced a river of gold, but those words are being taken mostly from the newspapers," Murdoch, said yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington.
"I think they ought to stop it, that the newspapers ought to stand up and let them do their own reporting."
Murdoch says News Corp will lead the charge.
"We are going to stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking stories for nothing... there is a law of copyright and they recognise it."
He says it would be preferable if the search engines "just publish our headline or a sentence or two and that's followed by a subscription form".
But as some commentators have already pointed out, that's exactly what Google and Bing do already.
Shane Richmond, technology editor at Britain's Telegraph newspaper wrote in a strongly worded blog called Does Rupert Murdoch understand copyright? that the current way Google displays news search results shouldn't have any effect on News Corp's pay wall strategy.
"I can't help wondering whether Rupert Murdoch is simply hoping to win the fight on rhetoric alone. The alternative is that he just doesn't know what he's talking about."
Google said in a statement to Business Week that its news search functions can work with a pay-for-content model.
"Publishers put their content on the Web because they want it to be found, so very few choose to exclude their material from web search. Of the tens of thousands of news publishers who choose to make their articles part of Google News, over the lifetime of the service there have been only a few dozen that asked us not to include them."
Meanwhile, Fairfax Media has announced it has Transaction Network Services (TNS), which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange to manage its online payments system.
Fairfax charges for content on some websites (most notably the Australian Financial Review) but has not announced plans to charge for content at its mainstream new sites.