Murdoch urges reforms to stem online copyright free riding

March 11th, 2010 by Barry Sookman Leave a reply »

James Murdoch, the head of News Corp.’s European and Asian operations, has urged governments to do more to protect copyright online. He is reported to have said “There’s no difference between stealing a bag of Pringles or a handbag, or stealing material on the Web”. He made these comments at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

Newspapers such as the Financial Times and the New York Times are looking at ways to monetize their content due to losses in advertising such as by charging for access over the Internet. However, it is hard to compete with “free”, especially when the “free” content is your own content that others are copying, aggregating, indexing, and otherwise exploiting without paying for it.

To counter this, Mr. Murdoch called for governments to create “disincentives” to prevent free riding: “There needs to be some level of sanity around property rights,” he is reported to have said.

According to the Guardian, Mr Murdoch stressed that future growth would come from original content production. On piracy, he stated: “We need enforcement mechanisms and we need governments to play ball … There is no difference with going into a store and stealing Pringles or a handbag and taking this stuff. It’s a basic condition for investment and economic growth and there should be the same level of property rights whether it’s a house or a movie,”

Mr Murdoch is also reported to have said “The idea that there’s a new consumer class and you have to be consumer-friendly when they’re stealing stuff. No. There should be the same level of sanctity as there is around property. Content is no different. They’re not crazy kids. No. Punish them.”

He also repeated previous threats by his father Rupert that News Corp may take copyright infringement proceedings against content aggregators such as Google.

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