Rupert Murdoch is simply looking for publicity when he says he ‘may’ want to block Google search. We all know he do not want to. This is because unless he has an extremely incompetent IT department (which he don’t), they will tell him inserting a simple robot.txt will do the trick. Google (and Microsoft and Yahoo and other reputable search engine had been honouring robot.txt file for ages.
We all know he don’t want to block Google. What he wants is Google to index his site, then pay him a fee for directing traffic to his site. In essence, it is “AdWord” in reverse. Rather than paying Google, he is now demanding a fee. Asking Google to pay for directing traffic to news site is not something new and it is a known sore point between search engines and content provider, in particular news provider. It has been bubbling for sometime now. This finally come to a head since Mr Murdoch wants to make his news site a pay-for service.
I don’t care about the argument that Murdoch is trying to build a walled garden. My philosophy is if someone do not want me to view his content, even if it is free, I will avoid his site. Moreover, it is a capitalist world. He is free to do that.
Precisely because it is a capitalist world, I am issuing a challenge to Mr Murdoch: Take the plunge, setup your robot.txt file to block Google. If your wall garden is so good that Google cannot do without, Google will come to the negotiating table to hammer out a deal. At that time, you can name your price. A more likely situation is Google feels that it can benefit from linking to your site. If so, then we have a negotiation.
Let me tell you what I think is most likely to happen: Murdoch’s site become less popular and probably fall out of the sky… and he cannot bear it.
Someone, I think it is Murdoch, says the only way to break search engine dominant in news stories is for all news site to stop supplying news stories for search engine to index. The person who says this is correct. That is one of the best strategy to bring search engines into the negotiating table. Reversing a trend for free news, I am seeing more sites that start to experiment with charging.
The charging model can work. See Malaysiakini for a good example. They are doing reasonably well because they deliver something others cannot. Can Murdoch do this? I am sure he can. Let the market determines whether it is worthwhile.
Rupert Murdoch’s ploy to get Google to pay him is like asking Tourist Information to pay an attraction for directing a tourist to them. Quite why the attraction wants to is not my concern. However, let’s not forget, the Tourist Information can choose not to direct any tourist to them as well.
As for his interpretation of “Fair Use” doctrine and that Google breach it? I think it is time for a law court to clarify it. I will love it if Murdoch mount a challenge.