Rupert Murdoch has been on a tear against Google, vowing to close off content he controls to the search giant and saying the web king, news aggregators and bloggers are all involved in "theft" of content created by journalism organizations like the ones he owns.
His comments were made Tuesday at a Federal Trade Commission forum in Washington titled "How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age." Murdoch's News Corp. controls the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and several newspapers in the U.K. and Australia. Murdoch also has significant properties in Los Angeles, including Fox studios and MySpace.
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The 78-year-old has threatened to keep Wall Street Journal content closed off from Google altogether, and he has prodded the search site to stop giving away free content that source owners like the WSJ require a subscription for. (People pay for premium content at the Journal, but a simple Google search can turn up what they want without charge).
In some ways Murdoch seems like a sage for a generation of journalists angered by the open floodgates of the internet. Bloggers and news sites can rehash newspaper material "without contributing a penny to its production," he said. Bloggers work "under the tattered veil of 'fair use.'"
If the entire news industry closed all doors to the web and allowed content only to be distributed through an iTunes-like pay hub, it might work. Two years ago. It's too late. And threatening to put up walls paper-by-paper is like closing your front door during Katrina.
At times, in fact, Murdoch seems downright crazy. His resistance to the interwoven mesh of the web's info-stream can seem downright bizarre. A recent Vanity Fair piece about Murdoch's Quixotic battles with the web make him look way out of touch. His wife Wendi related how, in a social meeting with Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin he asked them, "'Why don't you read newspapers?"