WTHX: Why the Hell is Rupert Murdoch Threatening to Pull News Corps Out of Google? (7/30)

In a move unprecedented by any major publication of any kind, much less the audience-starved newspaper industry, News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch threatened to make the entirety of his media empire “invisible to Google users” when it launches its much-anticipated paid-content strategy.

It has been noted that to do so is extremely easy, as all it takes to prevent the indexing of a website is to include a robots.txt file explicitly telling automated search “bots” from, well, indexing the site. However, despite this ease of implementation, News Corporation media sites such as Fox News and Wall Street Journal remain fully indexed by Google’s news aggregate.

What are Murdoch’s motives for doing so?

The driving force behind Murdoch’s decree is almost certainly ideological in nature. It has been speculated that taking News Corporation off of Google’s search engines amounts to a nearly 25% decrease in readership, amounting to a loss of readership numbered in the millions across the world.

However, two key tenets to Murdoch’s media philosophy could very well overshadow this fact. The first is simply that Murdoch believes that news aggregates are a form of intellectual property theft. This is despite the fact that aggregates like Google News only “samples” the first paragraph or so of an article and provide a link to the actual website, driving readers directly to the news publisher.

However, to Murdoch, even this sampling of the first paragraph or so amounts to theft. While such samplings have traditionally been legally considered “fair use,” Murdoch heavily disagrees with the practice.

To quote him directly, “There’s a doctrine called fair use, which we believe to be challenged in the courts and would bar it altogether… but we’ll take that slowly.”

What are the consequences of News Corps pulling out of web searchability?

Pure numbers. Physical media now only penetrates roughly 13% of US households, and the loss of the online audience threatens quite clearly to turn the News Corps owned publications obsolete.

As noted by Twitter commentators, it is expected that the loss of News Corps’ presence on online aggregates would give more focus and attention to its rival businesses.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on November 11, 2009.

3 Responses to “WTHX: Why the Hell is Rupert Murdoch Threatening to Pull News Corps Out of Google? (7/30)”

  1. He kind of reminds me of Metallica, back in the Napster days…

  2. Apt comparison. Not to mention that excepting for their editorial board and a couple of articles they may produce a year, most of their content will be available on things that are Google-indexable. Might mean having to reshuffle your RSS feeds or add a couple more, but those seeking the information the Murdoch publications would normally provide won’t have to try too hard to make up the gaps.

  3. You may enjoy my current post about Rupert Murdoch. When I found the information, it was eye opening.

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