Murdoch may block Google searches

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google’s search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.

In an interview with Sky News Australia, Murdoch said that newspapers in his media empire – including the Sun, the Times and the Wall Street Journal – would consider blocking Google entirely once they had enacted plans to charge people for reading their stories on the web.

In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of “kleptomania” and acting as a “parasite” for including News Corp content in its Google News pages.

Asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google’s search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.

“I think we will, but that’s when we start charging,” he said. “We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it’s not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story – but if you’re not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form.”

The 78-year-old mogul’s assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block.

It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal’s website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.

Murdoch added that he did not agree with the idea that search engines fell under “fair use” rules – an argument many aggregator websites use as part of their legal justification for reproducing excerpts of news stories online.

“There’s a doctrine called fair use, which we believe to be challenged in the courts and would bar it altogether… but we’ll take that slowly.”

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