Irish Newspapers Lobbying To Change Copyright Law To Charge For Links

Dinosaur alert: Irish newspapers desperately trying to charge for links — Mathew Ingram via paidContent

In a statement released on Friday, the country’s newspaper industry also confirms that it is lobbying to have Irish copyright laws define links as copyright infringement.

This fight has been going on behind the scenes for some time, but recently came to light when Irish lawyer Simon McGarr wrote about attempts by the Irish newspaper industry’s licensing body to charge one of his clients (a charity called Women’s Aid) a fee for linking to newspaper content. According to McGarr, the newspaper licensing group told the charity it had to pay an annual license fee: 300 Euros for one to 5 links, 500 Euros for 6 to 10 links — with a sliding scale extending all the way to 50 links, which would theoretically cost the charity 1,350 Euros. According to the licensing body:

a licence is required to link directly to an online article even without uploading any of the content directly onto your own website.

Not surprisingly, this position has been ridiculed by a number of media-industry observers, including journalism professors Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis, as well as George Brock of City University in London — some Irish journalists have even apologized on Twitter for their country’s behavior.

This is priceless. Somehow it reminds me of the unions efforts to get newspapers to pay for typesetters to sit idle after the digital compositing systems were invented.

This isn’t the first time publishers have tried to block others from linking to their sites. Recall the lawsuits over ‘deep linking’, like Ticketmaster’s legal attack when Microsoft’s Sidewalk sites and competitor started linking directly to ticket sales pages, way back in the ’90s.

But if lobbying of this sort is successful, we really are headed for a strange web, where links will become coin-operated.

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