Tighter Copyright Controls Could Be An Opportunity For Original Content Creators
Matt Drudge thinks new copyright laws aimed at curtailing internet news aggregators could put him out of business. But for people who take the trouble to create original content, it could be an opportunity.
News Aggregation Is Drudgery, Creating Content Is Fun
According to web pioneer Matt Drudge new copyright laws being pushed through the United States legislature and likely to be extended to the developed nations of Europe and Asia through the so called 'free trade treaties, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans - Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)will mean the end of the online news aggregator as well as independent news and websites of bloggers in sight.
How realistic is this? According to Drudge (confirmed by other sources) if the new laws go through without amendment, it will become illegal for online content creators to quote headlines or even link to commercial news sites.
Matt Drudge is an American political commentator and the founder of "The Drudge Report", a website which, according to Alexa ranks of 616 globally and 132 in the USA. Web statistics firm Quantcast estimates Drudge gets around 3 million hits a day or 90 million a month.
Talking with Alex Jones on Infowars.com Drudge said "the very foundation of the free Internet is under severe threat from copyright laws that could ban independent media outlets, before claiming that he was told by a Supreme Court Justice the game was over for sites such as his. He concluded that independent users contributions in future will be funnelled into social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What a horrible prospect, but how likely it is that Drudge is right?
The biggest news aggregator is Google, already in trouble in Europe and around the world, for copyright breaches. The technique Google News uses is known as 'scraping' and involves using software to fetch the entire text (with pictures, graphics etc.) to a site without the originator's permission. There is actually nothing in the law to stop people such as ourselves here at Wikinut from taking news stories we find online or in print media and rewriting them (preferably using several sources to form a balanced point of view) as an original article. It is what newspapers and broadcasters have done with news agency information from sources such as Reuters and Associated Press and company or government press releases for many years.
In fact it is what I did with the first part of this article (down to 'twitter and instagram'.)
Internet freedom is under threat, only recently the German government has tried to prevent criticism of its immigration policy, which has led to social disorder and civil unrest in many German cities. Dreaming of censorship and imposing it are, however, a universe apart. The indomitability of the human spirit was demonstrated by the Samizdat system of spreading information and ideas that emerged in Russia in response to the draconian censorship laws of the brutal Soviet regime.
With an example like that to inspire us and a community such as Wikinut to lend our individual efforts collective strength, combined with our own ingenuity and commitment to good writing, we should see these moves to clamp down on reuse of copyright violations as an opportunity, and although I don't know how Drudge makes his living (I run ad block on my computers), many news aggregators rely on revenue from advertising so I'm sure Chief Nut is hearing 'ker-ching' sounds as he thinks of all that advertising spend that will be looking for a new home.