Alex Massie Alex Massie

Irish Newspapers Attempt to Kill the Internet – Spectator Blogs

If Andrew Sullivan offers one example of how to thrive in the confusing, difficult, exciting new media world then, by god, the Irish newspaper industry offers another. The Irish newspaper industry has hit upon an innovative means of survival in these troubled times for the ink-trade: charge folk money for linking to your copy.

Yes, for linking. Not for copying or ripping off or excerpting far beyond any fair use standard but for linking. Like, for instance, this link. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. For linking to these six randomly selected stories from today’s Irish papers the industry suggests it be paid 500 euros. Good luck screwing that from the sensibly-prudent Spectator accounts department.

Ah, you may say, but the Spectator is a commercial enterprise and these links – even if theoretically and generally more useful to the linkee than the linker – go some way beyond the “personal use” to which the industry has never previously objected.  Perhaps so, says I, but the Irish newspaper industry has a quaint definition of “commercial use” too. Let McGarr Solicitors take up the story:

This year the Irish newspaper industry asserted, first tentatively and then without any equivocation, that links -just bare links like this one– belonged to them. They said that they had the right to be paid to be linked to. They said they had the right to set the rates for those links, as they had set rates in the past for other forms of licensing of their intellectual property. And then they started a campaign to lobby for unauthorised linking to be outlawed.

These assertions were not merely academic positions. The Newspaper Industry (all these newspapers) had its agent write out demanding money.

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