News Corp. Blocks Content from News Aggregation Site: Censorship on the ‘Right to Link’?

As you may recall, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch began talking about blocking search engines and news aggregators a couple months ago. And it was recently discovered that search engine/news aggregator NewsNow.co.uk had been blocked by Times Online, a publication from News International, a subsidiary of News Corp. This has been viewed as a possible beginning to what News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has been talking about for quite some time – blocking search engines and aggregators from using its content (and using apparently includes “linking“).

At the FTC’s Journalism and Internet Workshop in December, Murdoch said, “There are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purposes without contributing a penny to its production. Some rewrite, at times without attribution, the news stories of expensive and distinguished journalists who invested days, weeks or even months in their stories—all under the tattered veil of ‘fair use.'”

News Corp. Blocks Content from News Aggregation Site Censorship on the Right to Link

It is no surprise that a News Corp. publication would block a site like NewsNow, and this could just be the beginning of a long string of similar moves from News Corp. and other like-minded publishers. The real question is – will they follow through with the blocking of major search engines (namely Google)? That would be a much bolder move.

NewsNow founder Struan Bartlett is not exactly backing down from the fight. He has gone so far as to launch a campaign called Right2Link, the premise of which is essentially – linking to online content is a basic right, or officially:

Whether you are a consumer, an NGO, a blogger, an independent researcher, a concerned citizen or a business, your right to link needs protection.

Bartlett offers the following video to make his case:

Bartlett picks out the following as “the threats” of media owners stopping people from linking to content:

– Serious damage to the ease of access to digital information that drives the economy.
– Media owners cherry-picking organisations to target, accusing them of copyright theft, or demanding cash — this is already happening!
– Media organizations with significant economic power cutting deals with selected corporate search engines to guide the public to
their online media, their opinions and their political and commercial allies.
– Media with the power to enforce it levying additional so-called “license fees” from any business or organization using or linking to their websites.

It should be noted that NewsNow offers a paid service, and this is probably the biggest reason News Corp. targeted it out of all other possibilities (of which there must be an astonishing number). But does that matter? If the linking site isn’t stealing actual content, and is simply linking, does it matter if they charge for their service? Nobody is saying media owners don’t have the right to put up paywalls around their content, but if that content is freely available, why shouldn’t anyone be able to freely point to it with a link? What do you think? Would you ever want to BLOCK someone from LINKING to your content?

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