News Corp: Trying to Fence In the Internet

2 12 2009

A lot has been happening in the Internet the past few days. The most interesting story to me is the one about Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. seeking to “de-list” its news from the Google search engine. Awesome! And then the other shoe drops; News Corp. might also be negotiating to give Microsoft’s Bing search engine an exclusive and/or enhanced version of their news.

The sequence of events goes something like this:

  • Murdoch says he wants to charge for his news and will erect “pay walls” by the end of next year. Not totally surprising given the general health of the news business worldwide.
  • Murdoch then says unkind words about news aggregators such as Google, saying, These people are not investing in journalism. They’re feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others.”
  • Then, it gets out that Murdoch is negotiating with Bing for some kind of exclusivity deal for access to his news. Brilliant. It’s classic “any enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine” kind of thinking.

First, give credit where it is due. Murdoch is doing something as opposed to the other frogs who are just sitting in the pan as the temperature slowly rises.

But, more and more, this move is looking like a simple misguided case of, “those who do not read history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” Granted, the history of the Internet is not that long, but the Internet community does have a way of punishing people and organizations that try to go against its core principles, openness being #1.

Some small examples: (Thanks to Adam Metz for some of these.)

  • The Streisand Effect: This one is so funny it has become a generic term. Barbara Streisand tied to sue a photographer to take pictures of her house off of the Internet. He took them down, but other people picked up the images and now there are literally thousands of pictures of her house all over the Internet, including on Wikipedia.
  • Exxon, Pepsi and Anhauser-Busch’s attempts to anonymously edit their Wikipedia entries. Yep, they got caught and the publicity was embarrassing.
  • Astroturfing: The fake WallMart blog. They created a fake blog about people supposedly traveling the country and using their “RVs park free” offer. The Internet quickly figured out that the blog was fake and any gain from the free RV parking was lost by the publicity around the fake grass roots (i.e. astroturfing) effort.
  • AOL: They tried to create their owned walled garden and the Internet went around them like water around a rock in a stream.  Tough luck for Time Warner.

Now, Murdoch wants to try to wall off the Internet again. Good luck with that one buddy!

What’s Google’s reaction? Showing that Google truly does “get” the Internet, they announced that they would actually make it easier for news organizations to de-list themselves from their search engine. Far from being threatened by Murdoch’s move, they are further embracing openness.

Full article.

Microsoft would be wise not to take part in this.

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2 responses

7 01 2010
Simon

There is an even funnier aspect to this. When ITV (the largest commercial TV channel in the UK) refused to pay BSkyB (the NewsCorp satellite operator in the UK) for an EPG listing – well everyone at Sky just laughed coz they new with so much content on the platform people would just go somewhere else.

People did and ITV was permanently reduced as a result even when it finally gave in and took an EPG listing. People had got used to going elsewhere.

Well, guess what, the same thing will now happen to NewsCorp in reverse. Ironic huh!

… and those guys think they are clever. Heehee.

7 01 2010
rbnolan

Thanks, Simon. That is indeed funny. These guys are trying to fence in water!

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