Rupert Murdoch Indulges in Verbal Tantrum Against Google and BBC

The Financial Times reports on a recent Sky News Australia interview with News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch. He threatened to sue the BBC and ABC for stealing content, and Google for employing Fair Use:

Rupert Murdoch indicated on Monday that News Corporation would sue the BBC over breach of copyright for “stealing” material from his newspapers round the world. Mr Murdoch…was asked how he would be able to instigate his proposal to charge for newspaper websites such as The Times in the UK or The Australian when the BBC and ABC produced free news content on their sites.

“But we are better,” said Mr Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. “And anyway, if you look at them, most of their stuff is stolen from the newspapers now, and we’ll be suing them for copyright.”

But he added that he didn’t think it would be necessary to go to court. “They know the law. They will adapt.”

He also challenged the idea that Google and others could take just the headlines and opening lines from his papers’ stories, indicating that he would not tolerate even that. “[They use] a doctrine called fair use, which we believe can be challenged in the courts and will bar it altogether,” he said. But he added that News Corp papers currently benefited to some extent from the advertising around its freely available internet content so “we will take that slowly”.

BNet’s David Weir speaks to the apparent insanity of Murdoch’s words:

…it appears there will continue to be delays in implementing the paid content strategy, which continues to strike me as a non-starter for newspaper content. Murdoch seems unwilling to concede that news is a commodity in today’s world, and placing it behind a paywall would simply help his competitors grab audience share.

Then again, Murdoch is a man used to getting what he wants, so the delays and other problems (including possible anti-trust issues) plaguing his paid content plan must be frustrating him beyond belief. Thus the angry threats, but it remains to be seen whether he actually carries any of them out in the end.

Mediabistro has more commentary:

Look, the entire publishing industry is grappling with how to craft a winning business model. It’s not easy. But “the world’s most powerful media owner,” as Sky News Australia interview David Speers calls Murdoch (video below), clearly is letting his frustration cloud his judgment. What he’s saying is nonsense. Blocking Google and other search engines is tantamount to online publishing suicide. Does he really think that subscription revenue will more than make up for the ad revenue he’ll lose when page views plunge? I don’t know what News Corp.’s traffic data says, but plenty of sites out there get half their PVs or more from Google.

Rupert, never mind all this talk of pay walls and banning Google. The solution to your problem is clear: More Page 3 girls!

Amen to that.

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