Skip to comments.How To Save The Newspapers, Vol. XII: Outlaw Linking [Chicago judge would outlaw links, excerpts]
Posted on 06/28/2009 6:54:50 PM PDT by rabscuttle385
Of all the misguided schemes put forth lately to save newspapers (micropayments! blame Google!), the one put forth by Judge Richard Posner has to be the most jaw-dropping. He suggests that linking to copyrighted material should be outlawed.
No, Posner does not work for the Associated Press (which also has some strange ideas on linking). He is (normally) considered to be one of the great legal minds of our time. Posner is a United States Court of Appeals judge in Chicago and legal scholar who was once considered a potential Supreme Court nominee. He is someone who should know better. Yet in a blog post last week on the future of newspapers, he concludes there may be only one way to save the industry:
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holders consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holders consent . . .
Let me repeat that. He wants to bar linking to newspaper articles or any copyrighted material without the copyright holders consent. I am sorry Judge Posner, but I dont need to ask your permission to link to your blog post or to a newspaper article online. That is just the way the Web works. If newspapers dont like it, they dont need to be on the Web.
Much of what Posner wants to outlaw is public discourse. Why is it okay for people to talk about the days news in a bar or barber shop, but not online? People should be able to discuss the days news on the Web without fear of violating copyright law. The natural way people discuss things on the Web is by quoting and linking to the source. (Except maybe Posner, he doesnt seem to link to much of anything in his blog posts).
Posner never squares his position with freedom of speech or fair use rights. He doesnt even mention them. Yet those are precisely the rights which allow me to paraphrase his argument without his permission so that I can disagree with it. Posner is more concerned with the free rider problem. You know, all of those vampires and parasites supposedly sucking the life out of newspapers by quoting from them or linking to their stories. Blogs and other sites just take content from newspapers, Posner asserts, but they share none of the costs of news gathering.
Of course, that blanket assertion is simply not true. A growing number of blogs, including TechCrunch, do their own news gathering and send writers to cover events at their own cost. But even if we limit the discussion to cut-and-paste sites, the free rider argument still doesnt hold much water. You cant be a free rider if you are giving something back of value. A link on its own is valuable.
Where does Judge Posner think all of these newspaper sites get their readers? It is mostly through links, not direct traffic. Removing the links would obliterate the majority of the online readership for many newspapers.
Beyond that, extending copyright law to criminalize linking would cripple the entire Web. In all of these debates, newspapers are always placed somehow at the center of the Web, completely ignoring the millions of other sites out there which have nothing to do with news. Yet changes to copyright law to make linking illegal would have much wider, unintended consequences. I cant believe I even have to explain why this is a bad idea.
Copy-n-paste still works with proper citation regardless of a working/active link.
Furthermore, screenshots can do the same thing also given proper citation.
I’m going to be sick!
It's worth a try.
[... Posner is a United States Court of Appeals
judge in Chicago and legal scholar...]
“Chicago scholar”? What’s not to understand?
Nice going Judge, crash what's left of the MSM newspaper business!
If you’re gonna outlaw hyperlinking, might as well outlaw the Internet. When free speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have free speech.
Bring it on bitches!
But keep your powder dry!
But if you did outlaw links, you would also have to outlaw citations. This is because it would be simple to write a Greasemonkey script to scan through a page and convert all its citations into links, this taking place after the linkless page had been downloaded from the law-abiding server. LOL!
We need neither newspapers nor Posner.
The Future of Newspapers—Posner
The Social Cost of the Decline of Newspapers?Becker
Man, the syllabus just writes itself. I teach grad level information policy and the past few weeks have been full of ‘OMG, I can’t believe this crap is happening’ technology/info policy stories. I can’t wait for the course to start.
The judge is delusional.
A Link is an address. It is the equivalent of a footnote. A
ruling or law against linking would be Kafkaesque.
Far from protecting online sides of newspaper, I think this would completely kill them. If FR, google, or Linux Today doesn't point me to a site/story, I just don't get there.
I wonder if a news agency could give blanket approval to say google to link to their material? That'd keep them in the search engines. Of course, then everyone else would merely link to the google link... Probably the only net effect would be to up google's hit counts and advertising revenue...
Where does Posner think most of their traffic comes from?
I am sure the papers would give blanket permission to Google and the other search engines. This is targeted to blogs and site like FR. Of course, the daily Kos would probably have permission so that only the lefties would get the news they want to hear.
Who “owns” the news? And excerpting is well within the fair use doctrine.
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