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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rupert Murdoch is wrong (and a dolt)

Poor, poor multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Poor, poor News Corp.

Now, I know it's hard being Rupert. It's not easy trying to make billions of dollars and steer a multi-media empire while pushing a radical conservative agenda on the rest of the world.

But now that big bad Google and all of those other Internet-types are trying to rip him off, he's had ENOUGH!

Poor little Rupert believes that Google and other sites "steal" and "plagiarize" his content. He's threatening to sue them. He's trying to force Google and others to pay for his "content." He says he's going to put all of his sites behind "paywalls" so that you and I and everyone else in the world has to pay before they can read "his news."

For Whom the Net Tolls

I humbly submit that Rupert is a dolt. A nitwit. Not to mention wrong. Incredibly wrong.

Not just a teensy, weensy little bit wrong, but "the Titanic is unsinkable" wrong.

As in Dick Cheney saying, "We'll be welcomed into Baghdad as liberators not conquerors" wrong.

You see, Rupert, this is simple.

1) News, real news--no, not the kind of stuff you publish and call "Fox News" but REAL news--consists of facts. You can't copyright facts. You can't own them. You can't own numbers, details, you can't even own quotes said to you by other people. Those are facts. Those are in the public domain.

You can only own the specific description of facts, i.e. the way those facts are presented and described...but you can't own the actual words other people said.

But yes, you can copyright your stories.

But there's nothing you can do to stop people from paraphrasing and coming up with entirely original descriptions of facts.

Let's try an example:

HEADLINE: Rupert Murdoch to Put News Corp Sites Behind Paywalls.

MY REVISED HEADLINE: Rupert Murdoch is an Idiot.

See? I managed to convey the very same idea but in my own words. This is A) not hard and B) perfectly legal.

2) As for stopping Google and other Internet evil-doers from stealing your precious "content," there's a real simple way to stop that.

Just ask them to.

You see, if Rupert and the various New Corp spawn really wanted Google and others not to cover them, all they need do is note that in their "robots.txt" file on their website. Just a little line of text that effectively says, "Hey, Google and Yahoo and everyone else, don't go here. Stay away. Get off my lawn."

And boom, away they go. No more pesky Google, no more "stealing" content.

But also, no more traffic. Google and Yahoo and everyone else will just send their visitors somewhere else. And therein lies the rub.

News Corp loves the traffic that Google and other search engines give to them (for free). People find a link in a search engine, click on it and boom, there they are, right at a News Corp site reading the story they found. And Rupert gets that traffic for free.

But no, Mr. Rupert wants Google and others to pay for the privilege of sending him millions of readers. He wants to set up his websites so that you have to pay whenever you come across an article you'd like to read.

Never mind that most of the "content" he offers is largely just rehashed AP stories. Or that the only other thing he has to offer is the nuanced, thoughtful commentary of clowns like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

I hope that Google gives Mr. Rupert what he says he wants.

In fact, Google, I'm begging you. Please, please, please give Mr. Rupert what he wants: Just stop indexing Mr. Murdoch's various News Corp entities for a while...a week, a month, a year.

Let them see how much their traffic drops off. Let them see how few people subscribe to their offerings. Let them see how few people really care.

The bottom line, Mr. Rupert, is that if you stop making your "news" available online at no cost to readers, there are countless other news organizations that will gladly replace you. Gladly.

They will happily takes millions of readers off your hands.

And News Corp, Fox "News", the NY Post and all of your other unholy little enterprises will become totally irrelevant overnight.

Good day, sir.

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