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2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

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    2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

    http://www.mcgarrsolicitors.ie/2012/...stroy-the-web/

    This is not a joke.
    I have started with that clarification, because as you read this you will find yourself asking “Is this some kind of a joke?” I thought I would be helpful and put the answer right up at the start, so you can refer back to it as often as you require.
    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. They wrote to Women’s Aid, (amongst others) who became our clients when they received letters, emails and phone calls asserting that they needed to buy a licence because they had linked to articles in newspapers carrying positive stories about their fundraising efforts.

    These are the prices for linking they were supplied with:
    1 – 5 €300.00
    6 – 10 €500.00
    11 – 15 €700.00
    16 – 25 €950.00
    26 – 50 €1,350.00
    50 + Negotiable

    They were quite clear in their demands. They told Women’s Aid “a licence is required to link directly to an online article even without uploading any of the content directly onto your own website.”
    Recap: The Newspapers’ agent demanded an annual payment from a women’s domestic violence charity because they said they owned copyright in a link to the newspapers’ public website.
    This isn’t the case of a collection agent going rogue.
    The National Newspapers of Ireland is the representative body for Irish Newspaper Publishers. The 15 member titles in the NNI are
    • Irish Independent
      Irish Examiner
      The Irish Times
      Irish Daily Star
      Evening Herald
      The Sunday Independent
      Sunday World
      The Sunday Business Post
      Irish Mail on Sunday
      Irish Farmers Journal
      Irish Daily Mail
      Irish Daily Mirror
      Irish Sun
      Irish Sunday Mirror
      The Sunday Times
      Irish Sun Sunday

    In their submission to the Copyright Review Committee in July 2012 those 15 newspapers asserted baldly
    “It is the view of NNI that a link to copyright material does constitute infringement of copyright”. (Section 7 National Newspapers of Ireland Further Submission to the Copyright Review Committee)
    Women’s Aid received their demand from Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd (NLI), a collection agent for the Newspaper publishers. Here’s what that agent has to say about the status of links to newspaper websites:
    “It is the view of NLI that a link to copyright material does constitute infringement of copyright”
    (Page 5, Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd Further Submission to the Copyright Review Committee)
    The National Newspapers of Ireland describes the relationship with NLI like this:
    Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd (NLI) is a dedicated collecting society that represents the copyright interests of Irish national and regional newspaper publications, including National Newspapers of Ireland.
    The National Newspapers of Ireland and Newspaper Licensing Ireland both have the same address; Clyde Lodge, 15 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
    Given this congruence, it is unrealistic to treat Newspaper Licensing Ireland’s demands and assertions as something separate or distinct from the demands of the Newspaper industry itself.
    Every one of those 15 newspaper titles- and all the regional titles who are members of Newspaper Licensing Ireland- have endorsed the proposition that they have rights over links to their websites. Furthermore they want an explicit change in the law to back up their demands for money if you link to their websites.

    Here’s what the NNI say:
    “NNI proposes that, in fact, any amendment to the existing copyright legislation with regard to deep-linking should specifically provide that deep-linking to content protected by copyright…is unlawful.”
    (Section 7 National Newspapers of Ireland Further Submission to the Copyright Review Committee)
    Here’s a test. Ask any of the Editors of any of those newspapers listed above the following question. “Do you accept that people have the right to link to any page on your website?” Ask them online, or at a public meeting, perhaps. They will hotly respond by answering a question they haven’t been asked. They will say that they have always given people permission to link to their websites, when asked.

    Here’s the NLI’s protest:
    “on every occasion that NLI has been approached by a third party seeking to licence a form of copying or transmission not covered by any of our existing standard licences, we have sought to find a solution to that company’s requirement.”
    (Page 1, Newspaper Licensing Ireland Further Submission to the Copyright Review Committee)
    Here’s the Editor of IrishTimes.com, Hugh Linehan:
    Simon McGarr@Tupp_Ed
    30 May 12Oh, @DeVore, I don't think @hlinehan can grant licences outside the NLI ltd framework. He might be able to confirm otherwise.



    Hugh Linehan@hlinehan
    @Tupp_Ed @DeVore I regularly receive queries from people who want to link to us. I have yet to refuse.

    30 May 12


    Both the above statements are worded to maintain the position that linking to newspaper websites is within the grace and favour of newspapers to grant- or by implication to refuse. And, by further implication, to charge for if they so wish. You can see the kind of prices they’re thinking of, above.
    None of this has received any coverage in any newspaper for sale in Ireland. Not a drop of ink has been used to report on the print media’s lobbying to have their assertion of copyright over links written into legislation, in any Irish newspaper.

    You can read about this story in the New York Observer,on Techcrunch, on Techdirt or, if you prefer not to look to the international press you can turn to Michael McDowell’s news source of choice Broadsheet.ie. But, apparently, it isn’t a story for Irish newspapers.
    The web is built on links. Links are what has made it so powerful and so threatening to established institutions of power.

    Here’s Tim Berners-Lee, writing on Links and Law Myths in April 1997 under the heading Myth One
    Myth: A normal link is an incitement to copy the linked document which infringes copyright.
    The ability to refer to a document (or a person or any thing else) is in general a fundamental right of free speech to the same extent that speech is free. Making the reference with a hypertext link is more efficient but changes nothing else.

    I received a mail message asking for “permission” to link to our site. I refused as I insisted that permission was not needed.
    There is no need to have to ask before making a link to another site.
    In 2012, Irish newspapers- The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and all the others- are trying to make this myth a reality here.
    This is not the story of a rogue agent.
    This is the story of a rogue industry.
    Last edited by taz; 3rd-January-2013, 11:57.

    #2
    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/20.../#.UOVcOG_Ae-c

    It’s a fact of life that legacy industries are often killed off by newer industries spawned by new inventions, so the generally worsening situation of the newspaper industry should come as no surprise as more news moves online.What does surprise me is that some in the industry seemed determined to speed up the process and hasten the deaths of their companies. I’ve just read that the National Newspapers of Ireland has adopted a new licensing scheme where they expect websites to pay to link to one of their members.

    I’m not kidding. They’ve been sending out notices, demanding payment:
    The Newspaper Industry (all these newspapers) had its agent write out demanding money. They wrote to Women’s Aid, (amongst others) who became our clients when they received letters, emails and phone calls asserting that they needed to buy a licence because they had linked to articles in newspapers carrying positive stories about their fundraising efforts.
    Note that this is not paying for an excerpt, which is not that unreasonable, or some punitive measure for the copying of an entire article. No, the NNI wants to charge for links like this, this, or this.
    For those 3 links, I now have to pay the NNI 300 euros. Seriously. Apparently this group of 15 newspapers is under the impression that merely mentioning an article on one of websites is not legal; they think it is copyright infringement.

    Don’t hurt yourself trying to understand their reasoning; it’s utter nonsense. First and foremost, let’s consider the business aspect. There’s the fact that naming a work’s title does not and cannot be copyright infringement – not under US law (I’m not familiar with Irish copyright law). A link (or the URL inside it) is little more than a name, so arguably the same rule would apply. And even if it is more than a name, the URL can be regarded as a factual statement (you can find the content here) and facts arguably cannot be copyrighted in the US (some courts disagree).
    Crazy, no?

    Unfortunately this is not the first time this insanity has appeared, though none have gone quite so nuts as the NNI. There’s an ongoing push in Germany to pass a law which would force Google to pay publishers for using the tiny snippets in Google’s search results, and Belgian newspapers recently settled a similar dispute with Google. France is also considering a similar law.
    What’s even better is that the Belgian settlement came after Google lost the court case, and complied with the judge’s order to delist the newspapers from the search engine. That of course cost the Belgian newspapers a lot of traffic and reducing their revenue.
    And that, my dears, is the true crazyness about demanding payments for links and snippets. A link from one website to another is free advertising. It’s a source of page views which the recipient didn’t have to pay for.

    One commenter on the source article put it into perspective:
    By that same rational….. Do the newspapers intend to pay for each link to an advertisers site that they host? Possibly ending up paying more for the traffic they drive to advertisers sites than they receive for hosting links in the first place? Surely they’re killing their own revenue model.
    What we’re really talking about here is that these Irish newspapers want everyone else to pay for the privilege of giving the NNI member websites more traffic. That alone is enough to show what a nutty idea this is.
    Last edited by taz; 3rd-January-2013, 11:57.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: 2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

      Both the Indo and Times are in serious doo dah. The Examiner is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

      Unless there is a massive upswing in advertising - witness the Indo's recent shameful pumping of property, in the hope that it can return to Tiger advertising - then the long term future of these papers is non existent.
      Please support Milford Hospice. Click here to donate.

      Comment


        #4
        so has mf.com received invoices from NNI / NLI then from all of us linking to various articles on their websites ?
        Plato: \"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.\"

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by fitzy73 View Post
          Both the Indo and Times are in serious doo dah. The Examiner is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

          Unless there is a massive upswing in advertising - witness the Indo's recent shameful pumping of property, in the hope that it can return to Tiger advertising - then the long term future of these papers is non existent.
          I worry less about the future of newspapers than I do about print journalism. Not sure how traditional standards of the trade are going to be maintained if print disappears. I buy the Friday & Saturday IT, one or two Sunday papers (but they are mostly magazines). But during the week online will do me, and the bits I want are free. I have children who don't understand the concept of actually paying for news.

          The larger media organisations like Sky, CNN, Fox and so on will survive as they are and they can support their online offerings better than any newspaper can.

          It's a shame, but while some newspapers may survive, the remaining standards of journalism will depend on the TV companies. And the Beeb, I suppose.
          Last edited by blackwarrior; 3rd-January-2013, 18:00. Reason: Spelling as usual
          "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
          Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by lahinch_lass View Post
            so has mf.com received invoices from NNI / NLI then from all of us linking to various articles on their websites ?
            Thats what I would be curious about.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by blackwarrior View Post
              I worry less about the future of newspapers than I do about print journalism. Not sure how traditional standards of the trade are going to be maintained if print disappears. I buy the Friday & Saturday IT, one or two Sunday papers (but they are mostly magazines). But during the week online will do me, and the bits I want are free. I have children who don't understand the concept of actually paying for news.

              The larger media organisations like Sky, CNN, Fox and so on will survive as they are and they can support their online offerings better than any newspaper can.

              It's a shame, but while some newspapers may survive, the remaining standards of journalism will depend on the TV companies. And the Beeb, I suppose.
              I think the future - if there is any - is having a print presence which complements your online presence. So maybe having articles in print only; interviews, op-ed pieces etc.

              The Irish papers just haven't "got" the online thing. Hence, the ridiculous notion that they want to charge for links - which provide traffic to their website and, in theory, generate advertising income.

              BTW, there is plenty of great Irish journalism online e.g. Namawinelake, thejournal.ie, broadsheet.ie etc
              Please support Milford Hospice. Click here to donate.

              Comment


                #8
                2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

                Perhaps, Fitzy, but I'm still to be convinced that online can provide an economic model that supports proper professional investigative journalism.

                It is effective in providing an easily accessible and high profile channel for those with interesting things to share/leak/whatever, but journalism requires people on salaries spending time building contacts and investigating.

                The newspaper hacking story that the Guardian pursued for years, the MPs expenses story that the Telegraph broke required real spade work.

                I think online is a great channel for stuff that's ready to break. But it has yet to prove that it can create an economic base that sustains the skills required at the right level.

                I'm not sure that a news media funded wholly by advertising revenue is a long term model for a free press.
                "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

                "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


                "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

                Comment


                  #9
                  So the Newspapers say that they legally own the copyright to links to their sites while lobbying the Government to include such ownership in the upcoming Copyright legislation.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Balla Boy View Post
                    Perhaps, Fitzy, but I'm still to be convinced that online can provide an economic model that supports proper professional investigative journalism.

                    It is effective in providing an easily accessible and high profile channel for those with interesting things to share/leak/whatever, but journalism requires people on salaries spending time building contacts and investigating.

                    The newspaper hacking story that the Guardian pursued for years, the MPs expenses story that the Telegraph broke required real spade work.

                    I think online is a great channel for stuff that's ready to break. But it has yet to prove that it can create an economic base that sustains the skills required at the right level.

                    I'm not sure that a news media funded wholly by advertising revenue is a long term model for a free press.
                    I don't necessarily disagree - although a site like Namawinelake has shamed many other "investigative" Irish journalists - but my point is that whether we like it or not, that is where it is heading imho.

                    People are used to free news, and if companies go down the paywall route, they will suffer a cliff fall in advertising revenue, as people will simply go elsewhere for news. Since the (London) Times introduced it's paywall, just 4% of it's readership view it online, versus 50% for Guardian readers.

                    The IT is heading down the paywall route (again) - but will it be successful? What kind of revenue will it generate - taking fixed and variable costs of having a paywall into consideration - versus having a free site funded by advertising. If the British experience is anything to go by, advertising revenue will sharply decline.

                    The interesting success story of online and print media is the Daily Whail, which has seen a surge in online readership in the last year. As much as I gag thinking about it, maybe that's a blueprint for the future.
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                    Comment


                      #11
                      And, unfortunately, you can see the impact it's had on the Guardian over time if you remember it a few years ago. It now has far more "celebrity" and lifestyle content than it ever carried before, and its opinion section is often no more than glorified trolling clearly aimed at driving clicks.

                      The Mail is even more foul online than it is off, with massive amounts of its traffic driven by celebrity focussed bitching and pictures of women in swimwear.

                      The Guardian is also bleeding cash at an alarming rate.

                      My hope is that tablet/smartphone use makes a downloaded "print edition" model viable sooner rather than later, because the online incarnations of broadsheets will cease to function as quality newspapers sooner rather than later.

                      I think there's also a rather naive assumption in a lot of online content businesses (including Facebook) that "advertising" is a natural element that will expand to fill all available space.
                      "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

                      "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


                      "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: 2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

                        Originally posted by Balla Boy View Post
                        And, unfortunately, you can see the impact it's had on the Guardian over time if you remember it a few years ago. It now has far more "celebrity" and lifestyle content than it ever carried before, and its opinion section is often no more than glorified trolling clearly aimed at driving clicks.

                        The Mail is even more foul online than it is off, with massive amounts of its traffic driven by celebrity focussed bitching and pictures of women in swimwear.

                        The Guardian is also bleeding cash at an alarming rate.

                        My hope is that tablet/smartphone use makes a downloaded "print edition" model viable sooner rather than later, because the online incarnations of broadsheets will cease to function as quality newspapers sooner rather than later.

                        I think there's also a rather naive assumption in a lot of online content businesses (including Facebook) that "advertising" is a natural element that will expand to fill all available space.
                        The focus has to be selling "value added" services, I think. Advertising will make up a large chunk of future revenues, but there is no doubt that a market exists for other services, like access to back issues, specialised reports etc.

                        In my mind, future investigate journalism will become a real niche market. The question remains as to whether such journals can garner enough subscribers to make it profitable.
                        Please support Milford Hospice. Click here to donate.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by fitzy73 View Post
                          The focus has to be selling "value added" services, I think. Advertising will make up a large chunk of future revenues, but there is no doubt that a market exists for other services, like access to back issues, specialised reports etc.

                          In my mind, future investigate journalism will become a real niche market. The question remains as to whether such journals can garner enough subscribers to make it profitable.
                          It could be that the pattern of the last few years continues, with TV far better positioned to deliver real investigative journalism than newspapers.

                          I'm not even sure how many people want to be journalists any more. Most of the shape throwers I see online and off seem to be seeking a place at the "commentator" table.
                          "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

                          "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


                          "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: 2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web

                            I have a bit of hope that some private individuals can take up some of the mantle.

                            Again, someone like namawinelake is wiping the eye of all financial journalists.

                            It'll be an interesting to see which papers, and in what format, exist by the end of this decade.
                            Please support Milford Hospice. Click here to donate.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Balla Boy View Post
                              It could be that the pattern of the last few years continues, with TV far better positioned to deliver real investigative journalism than newspapers.

                              I'm not even sure how many people want to be journalists any more. Most of the shape throwers I see online and off seem to be seeking a place at the "commentator" table.
                              I think you're correct about TV media - their model seemed better equipped to deal with the online threat than newspapers are. But, how often do we even sit down any more to "watch the news" when we have 24-hour news channels and online sources - I can't say that I do.

                              Also, there's more than just investigative journalism under threat - financial, political, sports and several other fields are suppported by print media at present, and it's not clear what will replace that support.

                              I met a young journalist at a house over Christmas, and asked him if his profession had a future. He felt for certain that the traditional paths to a journalistic career were almost gone, but it was interesting that almost all of his 8-10 years experience to date was with non-print outlets.
                              "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
                              Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

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