The Seventh Circuit’s Judge Posner has weighed in on the newspaper crisis at his Becker-Posner Blog suggesting that a fix to the news revenue issue might be to change copyright laws to prevent linking to or summarizing news content (click here to read the post):
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.
I see the problem and the danger to society in losing newspapers and their reporters, but it seems unworkable to prevent linking. Perhaps a system could be implemented requiring sites that link to a news story or to registered and copyrighted material to pay a small fee for each click through from their site. It could be similar to and even administered by the Copyright Clearance Center which currently offers licenses that grant rights to incidental copying of the copyrighted content of member organizations.
Additionally, preventing summarizing of factual news stories would be exceptionally difficult to implement. But the newspapers can prevent direct copying of the text of articles from their sites and can always require subscriptions or passwords to get to their content.
But while I am not sure that these suggestions are workable, there is little doubt that newspapers in particular need new avenues to monetize their content in order to maintain economically viable. And as someone who has three papers delivered to his door daily, I fully support protecting the print news media.