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Judge's idea to outlaw links won't save newspapers

I continue to be blown away by what I read about how newspapers can be saved. The latest comes from U.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

I continue to be blown away by what I read about how newspapers can be saved. The latest comes from U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner who, in a blog post last week, suggested that one way to save newspapers from their demise would be "to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent."

Are you freakin' kidding me?

For the record, I did not get the judge's consent to paraphrase him, quote him or link to his blog post. And because I'm not required by law (yet) to do so, I can still share it with you readers, providing you with information that you otherwise might not have seen.  Isn't that what the news business is all about? Sharing information.

After all, that's how I stumbled upon the judge's blog post - through a post on Barron's Tech Trader Daily that also chimed in on the judge's post. No, I didn't obtain the consent of Barron's or author Eric Savitz to link back to his post - but then again, Eric didn't obtain permission to link back to the judge's post either.

The point being: had Eric not linked to it, I might never have seen it. Had I not seen it, I never would have been able to share it with you. If you're a journalist, what's more important - sharing your work with the largest audience possible or blocking it from anyone who doesn't ask for permission or cough up some money?

One other thing about the judge's post: he writes that "...a newspaper with shrinking revenues can shrink its costs only by reducing the number of reporters, columnists, and editors..."

Hogwash.

Sure, reporter salaries can add up - but having worked in this business for nearly two decades, I can say with confidence that no one in those newsrooms is buying yachts or spending their summers at the summer house on the Hamptons. Well, no one sitting in a cubicle, that is.

One of the problems with newspapers today is that the industry still has the word "paper" in it. When I worked for a newspaper, we constantly heard about the rising costs of actually printing the paper - the paper itself, the ink, the presses, the salaries of the people who operate the press. That doesn't even count the transportation costs - trucks that need fuel and maintenance, insurance and, of course, the salaries of the people who drive those trucks.

Newspapers are broken. There's no doubt about that. But outlawing links to copyrighted material seems just a bit on the extreme side, dontcha think? Newspaper executives can blame the Internet for their woes if that makes them feel better - but they shouldn't be mad at me or Google because their business model is broken.

Newspaper executives have been making bad decisions for a long time - and continue to do so with every pink slip they hand out. Do they really think that getting rid of the journalists - and their "fat paychecks" - is the way to bring readers and advertisers back?

On the contrary. They're picking away at the very thing that makes them valuable - the journalism - and, in the process, they're sending readers elsewhere for their news.

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