Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rupert Has a Plan

But it's not a very good one.

The problem with Rupert Murdoch's proposal to create an online news consortium, in which major publishers would all band together to put their news content behind pay walls (L.A. Times, 8/21/09), is that it's not illegal to discuss news events online. And you don't want to make it illegal to discuss news events online.

And yet, absent a law forbidding such discussions, there's nothing to stop someone from buying subscriptions to the various pay news sites and starting a website (like this one, but more so) in which they write about what they've learned from them--thus offering for free what the Murdoch's news trust would be trying to get people to pay for. You can't copyright facts, and any attempt to change the law to allow publishers to do so would run straight into the shoals of the First Amendment and the concept of democracy itself.

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