July 15, 2009

Lost spoils don't warrant corporate welfare

The big news media conglomerates and their smaller cousins hate that the Internet has provided alternatives to their cozy monopolies. But instead of adapting their operations, the media barons cry foul when complementary companies like Google succeed and ask friendly politicians to give them back the spoils of broken monopolies.

If the newspapers don't want parts of the population to read them, they can easily choose to be hard to find. If they feel that Google is violating their intellectual property rights or not paying enough, they should tell Google not to crawl their sites or negotiate an agreement. But enlisting politicians to achieve what business negotiations couldn't is unworthy a free press.

The media chiefs should heed to the words of Jan Stenbeck and recognize that this is a case of technology beating politics. Shaking a few dollars out of Google, which seems unlikely, doesn't change the fact that the aggregator is a new, legitimate and often strategically strong actor in the news media industry.