We try to keep up with things in the journalistic world, for obvious reasons, but this story may be of less interest to those of you without a professional interest in the subject: Will Oremus at Slate.com reports that Irish Newspapers Say It’s Illegal To Link to Their Articles. An “outraged lawyer” who has to deal with them
notes that the newspapers aren’t just seeking to crack down on sites that summarize or excerpt their articles. Their position is that publishing a hyperlink alone constitutes a violation of their copyright and is illegal without prior consent and payment. . . .
Irish newspapers have in fact been badgering Irish organizations that link to their sites with letters, emails, and phone calls demanding payment. [Outraged lawyer Simon] McGarr says the newspapers are charging €300, or nearly $400, for the right to link just once to an article on an Irish newspaper website, with prices rising to €1,350 for more than 25 links. They’ve apparently gone so far as to hound an Irish charity called Women’s Aid for linking to positive news stories about their fundraising efforts.
Publications spend money on their websites because they want people to read their articles online, in the hope (if they’re for profit enterprises like newspapers) that the readers will want to pay for the articles they can’t get for free and might even pick up the paper version. They want other sites to link to their articles because those links bring them new readers, who might pay etc. Claiming — and they just can’t seriously believe this — that copyright law covers web addresses defeats the purpose of having a website. One wants to ask the Irish newspapers: who thought it was a fabulous business plan to have their newspapers run by morons?
In any case, as Oremus writes:
Newspapers’ decline over the past decade has been due in large part to forces beyond their control. But it has been hastened in many cases by the bullheaded, greedy, and nearsighted actions of the newspaper industry itself.