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That Link You Just Posted Could Cost You 300 Euros 227

Nate the greatest writes "Do you like to tweet or share links to interesting news articles? According to a coalition of Irish newspapers, that makes you a pirate. The National Newspapers of Ireland has adopted a new policy. Any website which links to one of the 15 NNI member newspapers will have to pay a minimum of 300 Euros, with the license fee going up if you post more links. Note that this is not a fee to post an excerpt or some punitive measure for the copying of an entire article. No, the NNI wants to charge for links alone. It's almost as if this organization has no idea how the web works. Or maybe they have found an elaborate way to commit suicide."
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That Link You Just Posted Could Cost You 300 Euros

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:26PM (#42454339) []
    And yes, I'm truly an anonymous coward.
  • Link please (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthBling ( 1733038 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:27PM (#42454347)
    Anybody have a link to one of the 15 NNI member newspapers?
  • by the biologist ( 1659443 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:27PM (#42454351)
    And since they're not just going after Google, they will be even faster to change their policy once they start sending out the license fee requests and actually get peoples' attention.
    • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:35PM (#42454489)
      1. Bigger entities have tried going after google only to fail, google can just exclude the links, or if worse comes to worse blacklist Ireland (not likely they have tax entities there I think)

      2. The only point of this article I really care about is that they're lobbying for this, which doesn't mean shit usually no idea how this made the news.

      3. By doing this they'd encourage people to copy paste their articles, strip out the sources, possibly change some wording and republish, at least with links they get web traffic for ads.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 )

        1. Bigger entities have tried going after google only to fail, google can just exclude the links, or if worse comes to worse blacklist Ireland (not likely they have tax entities there I think)

        They most certainly do have tax entities in Ireland; Ireland has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in Europe. As a result, Google (Europe) invoices their customers via an Irish company.

        Of course, Google can deal with this in two ways. They can either pay NNI their licensing fee or they can remove all Irish media from search results. I can very well see Google doing the latter.

    • The website for Women's Aid linked to stories on the newspaper's website mentioning Women's Aid, as if the news stories are some form of endorsement. Maybe that's what the newspapers are charging for. It is not the same like Google or blogs bringing visitors to the newspaper.
  • A newspaper (that depends on people reading it and it's website) punishing people for reading it or discussing it's stories via the internet and links. I can't see any flaws in this plan.
  • Company policy isn't law. Too bad for them at least.

  • ha haw (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    hahaha. ha. hahah. lol. haha hahaahahahahahhahhahhahhhahahahahhahahahahahahsahahahahhahahhahhahah

  • Well that's easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lorens ( 597774 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:29PM (#42454377) Journal

    Google won't want to pay, so Google won't post a link to their sites. Ever. Anywhere.

    • Yeah, they pretty much ensured they won't show up on any search engine ever. And no one is going to share articles, ever.

    • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:50PM (#42454659)

      Is there some law that would force Google to pay? Otherwise, if they don't have an existing agreement, I would think they'd just file the bills in the circular filing cabinet under the desk. And maybe report them for some kind of fraud for sending out bogus bills?

      Or is this just another case of "pay our 'fee' or we sue" extortion?

      • Presumably Google does advertising business in Ireland. Nevermind that this [] site exists.

        • Google's European base is in Ireland.

        • by dkf ( 304284 )

          Presumably Google does advertising business in Ireland.

          Google does a lot of business in Ireland (mainly for morally-shady tax reasons) but why would they care about some newspapers there? Google doesn't normally advertise with the newspapers for some reason, and yet I suspect that the newspapers may well sell their online ads via Google.

    • Isn't that what they did when the Belgians pulled a similar trick?

    • by dkf ( 304284 )

      Google won't want to pay, so Google won't post a link to their sites. Ever. Anywhere.

      If there's no legal teeth, no agreement or contract, then Google will just ignore them. Setting a policy does not by itself mean anything if you can't get the people to whom you think that policy should apply to to agree to abide by it.

      Otherwise I could easily use that same trick to my advantage: I have a policy that everyone on Slashdot that has a "q" in their username should pay me $500! So what if you think it's silly? It's a policy!!!!!

    • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:40PM (#42454557)

      Its definable, not necessarily linkable, beyond the domain name.

      Its pretty trivial to make a dynamic website, for the sake of example, and all the links on that are random numbers which are mapped to the the real story. Then every minute or whatever add new links and destroy the links that are more than 30 minutes old. So points to the most recent blarney competition, but in an hour, that URL will be deleted and/or repointed to goatse or whatever instead of the original story.

      One amusing thing you can do, if you rotate every minute and keep the last 60 links around for an hour, is trivially analyze how long someone's been on the site and/or how long between clicks. You can also get all "top sekrit" security by obscurity and give different random number links to each subscriber, so if you see a link out in the wild, you know exactly who released it and when and what it was linked to. Other than that, it is a pretty moronic stunt or experiment. Why yes, I have done some pretty bizarre things solely for the F of it in the past 20 years.

      • I didn't mean that the link would necessarily work. (Take you to content). Just that the act of linking to a published http url on on the world wide web must be considered a legal act.

        The name "World Wide Web" implies this. This was the fundamental intent of the core technology that has enabled the mainstream and worldwide use of the Internet.
        Either the web as a whole is illegal, or linking to whatever links are published must be legal. Anything else is not practically administrable, is prima face ridiculou

      • I think you're trying too hard. All you have to do is replace the site with a Flash applet. Or for extra awesomeness, use Java instead. Now the only functional hyperlinks will be to the main page that loads the applet, which will load their content cover page, and all article content is accessed there, within the applet. Plus since the content won't be searchable, the won't have to worry about Google and friends providing links directly to their site.

        Or they can just do what brain-dead mobile site developer

        • by vlm ( 69642 )

          Yes that'll work. My insane link farm idea (from more than a decade ago) was sort of a psuedo MUD / text adventure on the net, with the idea that you decide if your instance is private, group, or public based on how you publicize "your" url or not. With the added metagame that instead of using sensible 128 bit hashes or whatever, I intentionally made the urls small and human enough that a devoted lunatic could randomly skip around and hit something once in a while, see whats going on. Needless to say, ne

  • Someone will steal their Lucky Charms.

    • Someone will steal their Lucky Charms.

      More like Lucky Charms got baned from the lunchroom as discriminatory to Irish.

  • A new kind of info terrorist on the web.
  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:41PM (#42454565)

    I'm just impressed they were able to sober up enough to write the stories in the first place. They must have rounded up all five sober people in Dublin to pull that off.

    • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

      I'm just impressed they were able to sober up enough to write the stories in the first place. They must have rounded up all five sober people in Dublin to pull that off.

      Didn't need to round them up. In Dublin the police keep all the sober people in jail to sleep it off. Else they wouldn't have enough room...

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:53PM (#42454697)
    Their next scheme: billboards covered with giant tarps. You have to pay them to unroll the tarp and show you the ad. Brilliant!
    • Works pretty well for fashion magazines.
    • Never underestimate human curiousity!

      Examples (from over a decade ago in The Netherlands):

      Billboards with advertising on one side, and a text like "look at the other side" on the back. These were condemned and possibly even forbidden for being considered an accident risk: many drivers would indeed try to look back to see what's written on the sign. And in the process of course not look at the road ahead.

      Billboards with just a text like "coming soon" or "watch this space" caused quite a buzz, as many people

  • Car analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andrio ( 2580551 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:54PM (#42454707)
    It's like a car dealership sueing anyone that shares the street address of the car dealership.
  • They clearly don't want to be in business anymore, and who are we to stop them? I wish them the greatest success in their... um... endeavours.

  • by qwe4rty ( 2599703 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:07PM (#42454889)
    I was skeptical when I first read this submission so I did some digging around and found the National Newspapers of Ireland's submission to the Copyright Review Committee here []. I'm dumbfounded

    The Consultation Paper, at page 48, briefly discusses the issue of linking and goes on to provide for a proposed amendment to existing copyright legislation to provide that the offering of a link on a page on the internet is not an infringement of copyright law. The underlying rationale set out by the Consultation Paper in this section is misconceived and we do not accept as being based on fact.

    Section 6.3 of the Consultation Paper provides that Courts, (although it does not specify which Courts) are increasingly concluding that a link, by itself, should never be seen as a publication, reproduction or communication of the content to which it refers, even where that content is an infringement of copyright. The NNI takes serious exception to the statement included in the Consultation Paper that “the fact that links make access to that content straightforward does not change the reality that a link, by itself, is content neutral.” "

    It is the view of NNI that a link to copyright material does constitute infringement of copyright, and would be so found by the Courts.

    Just when you thought people couldn't get any stupider...

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @11:59PM (#42457625) Homepage

      The first two sentences seem aimed at things like The Pirate Bay and other sites linking to illegal copies, which they think should be illegal under some kind of contribution theory. And that you could at least argue, that there's a difference between pointing people to a legal gun shop and your illegal arms dealer friend Tony. Amending the law to say linking is never illegal would be a very strong result, if you're not hosting it you're not liable for it period. It would be very good for everyone casually linking to websites everywhere, but would would enable the business model of 1) Upload content anonymous to hosting sites, 2) Post links to said content on your ad-supported link site, 3) Profit from ad revenue. Not many "???" steps in that plan.

      But the last sentence really takes it over the top, they assert the right to control all links pointing to their copyrighted work period and the "infringement" letters go with that definition too. It's like telling a map service that you made ad money on pointing people to our store, so you owe us money. To be illegal under copyright the, the law must be broken somehow because you can't have secondary infringement without a primary infringement. If I point people to your article, you can either choose to provide them a copy - which would be legal - or refuse them a copy - which would be legal. Under no circumstances could this lead to copyright law being violated as anything that happens once people follow the link is under full control of the copyright holder. Arguing otherwise is not just stupidity, but insanity.

      • The first two sentences seem aimed at things like The Pirate Bay and other sites linking to illegal copies, which they think should be illegal under some kind of contribution theory.

        Seem so maybe, but I think it is not. It is far broader.

        If there is a link to copyright material, that is not necessarily infringing. Lots of material that can be found on TPB is infringing, though the links as such are then not infringing. Remember: when you are dealing with copyright material, you are not necessarily infringing on those copyrights.

        Most material published on a newspaper's web site is not infringing; they either produced it themselves or they have a license to redistribute. So reading it di

  • Well duh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustAnotherIdiot ( 1980292 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:26PM (#42455163)

    It's almost as if this organization has no idea how the web works.

    Wow, they sound like people from that old and expensive form of media.
    You know, those things that are all dying out because they're no longer needed?
    Hmm, what were they called again?

    According to a coalition of Irish newspapers

    Ohh, that's right, newspapers! Haha, man, that sure takes me back.

  • by paulpach ( 798828 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:28PM (#42455183)
    If NNI went to war, this would be their weapon of choice []
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:29PM (#42455185) Homepage Journal

    Any website which links to one of the 15 NNI member newspapers will have to pay a minimum of 300 Euros

    Any website?

    1) Go onto each member of the cartel^H coalition's site .
    2) Find therein a comment board and post a metric bucketload of links to all of the others.
    3) ...
    4) Eat popcorn.

  • by Shuntros ( 1059306 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:31PM (#42455209)
    I decided, having had a couple of stiff ones (drinks) this evening, to drop them a line via the website in an attempt to contribute a tiny amount of sanity and/or education.

    Unfortunately I was told my email could not contain anything other then [0-9|a-z] IN THE BODY and due to my use of punctuation I was not allowed to email them. I was going to "correct" my correspondence, but the I thought "fuck it, I've got work tomorrow", and I have a glass of wine and 2/3 of a frankly very good cigar to do in.
  • If one argued that DNS is the root of all web links then perhaps that too should be removed. That would show them how to completely disconnect them from the web.

    Who want to get excessive on their butts?

  • Because I download copyrighted material.

    Sharing links is like sharing addresses. If I tell you that house on the corner of Main St. & Spring Ave is a crack house, did I break the law?

    Just because you have a link to something doesn't mean you are going to use it. Or that what the link points to is actually even what it says it is, or is even still to a viable file.

    Of course, most of us know that, but law makers don't seem to, and their lobbyist are probably paying them enough money not to care.

    • This is even worse than trying to claim that "you told John Smith where the infringing files are and therefore you are guilty of copyright infringement too." This is them saying "you told John Smith how to legally access our files (which we serve up), therefore you are guilty of copyright infringement." At least with the first example, there's primary infringement to base a claim of secondary infringement on. It's wrong, but there's at least a line of reasoning there. This is claiming secondary copyrigh

  • This is a shining example of why every effort must be made to shitcan any certified mental cases in positions of authority within your organization before it is too late.

    It is ok to throw the ethics rulebook out the window without regard for who it may fall on if it gets the batshit crazy idiots in your company fired.

  • and sometimes I have sales. It turns out that most of my customers that come in during my sales heard about the sale by word of mouth.

    How to I sue all those people infringing on my sale by telling others about it?

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:57PM (#42455543) Homepage Journal

    If they don't want people linking to them, the should set up an Apache Redirect Rule for all Get Requests that have a Foreign site as the Referrer.

    Silencing free speech and expression with lawsuits when you can easily curtail that behavior on your own should be seen as unconscionable and any such lawsuit dismissed, with any fees associated in the defense against those claims rewarded to the defendant.

    • They aren't opposed to people linking to them, they just want money anytime someone does. This is an attempt to prop up a poor business on their part by legislation.
  • Guess I'll just have to copy the content of the story and not link to them.

  • I have just started a policy that says if I link to a news site's article, they will need to pay *me* 300 euros with the fee going up for each click thru.
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:31PM (#42455895)

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your invoice # 88266 for the sum of 300 Euros.

    This has been forwarded to our accounting department who have informed me that as of today, your account is now 30 Euro in debt, being calculated as follows:

    Opening balance: 0.00
    Your Inv# 88266: -300.00
    Handling fee: 150.00
    Processing fee: 120.00
    Account setup fee: 60.00
    Closing balance: 30.00

    Please remit your payment for 30.00 Euro within 7 days to avoid legal action.

    We thank you for your business and trust you will continue to trade with us.

    F.U Assole
    President, Don't Mess With Us Inc

  • by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:48PM (#42456107) Homepage

    Are those newspapers going to pay €300 to each of the sites that they link to? Or do they think that they should be specially privileged and allowed to charge outrageously without ever needing to let someone do it back to them?

    • Given that their standard boilerplate appears to contain links to Facebook, Twitter, and Cullen Communications (their hosting service?) that could be rather expensive. 300 Euros times however many pages they have on their site should resolve the problem rather quickly, should those sites decide turnabout is fair play.

  • I charge 3x that for any links I post having such restrictions.

  • Not a bad flamebait to get tons and tons of backlinks from outraged sites and raise their Google Pagerank and rank higher in the SERPS.

  • Every time I read a story like this, I wonder if the person running their website is just really really good at search engine optimization.

    "I couldn't pay people to link to my site, but if I tell people not to they're going to do it out of spite. More links to my site means higher search engine placement means more revenue for me."

    Screw it. You don't want me to link to you? I won't. And I hope your site goes out of business.

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:22AM (#42457797) Homepage Journal
    I'll just wget -r and link to a local copy of it.
  • ... I gather Google are now going to de-list them from their index?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger