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Murdoch et al just can’t let go October 13, 2009

Posted by Tony Randall in 1.

I found this story and  was kind of appalled and amused at the exact same time.

There was something comedic about two guys dressed up in China all  utterly confident that they know what’s what about journalism, telling regular people that they better back off from misappropriating ‘our’ content or else.

‘Our’ content.

Of course I get the point about how much Curley and Murdoch have to pay to allow their journalists to source news, and hence they want a return on the investment. I also understand copyright issues.

But news is like a genie you can’t put back in a bottle. Caning the so called aggregators and pirates feels a little like banning your staff from discussing the morning news at the water cooler on the premise that they don’t ‘own’ the news and therefore have no right to pass it on.

It’s a good topic, I brought it up in my online class just today, and I notice Jeff Jarvis responded with similar head shaking. It struck me that the text here was that, despite all they have learned and know about the new media world,  Murdoch and Curley still deep down believe that they do indeed own the news, and that yes, the news can be owned.

There was a time in England, before enclosure, when people must not have  conceived of a world where a man could no longer freely walk and work the grasslands. Then one day somebody, for an unfathomably useless reason, suddenly ‘owned’ that land. And their descendants sit in the House of Lords today on the strength of it.

Now the pattern is reversed. The landed gentry of ‘content’ cannot conceive of a world in which they don’t own the news, yet they are being relieved of that power of ownership even as they protest.

Murdoch once told the newspaper world to embrace the digital future. Now he is King Canute.



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