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Irish Papers Charging for Links

Newspapers ValuedBernie Goldbach in Clonmel | Photo of Irish Examiner.

IRISH NEWSPAPERS HAVE started invoicing agencies that link to their content. If this unwelcome industry practise creeps into academe, it could stifle the delivery of high-quality content.

As the senior creative multimedia lecturer at the Limerick Institute of Technology, I write content in the form of Acrobat documents, e-books, Powerpoint files, public Evernote links, Google documents and Slideshare presentations. All of these documents gain a share of their relevance through occasional hyperlinks to Irish newspapers such as the one shown above in this blog post. Based on a billing mechanism developed by the National Newspapers of Ireland, I could be liable for payment simply because I put links into a bibliography section of an academic document. Since I cannot honour a demand payment, I am modifying the hyperlinks to ensure they do not point to the newspapers. Furthermore, I am removing most of my academic material from public view since I know Meltwater, Google and other crawlers have discovered it during the past three years. 

It's an issue that has merited discussion on This Week in Google and on For Immediate Release, the premier business podcast where I've left a comment.

Bernie Goldbach on Leistungsschutzrecht

If I had administrative support while preparing my third level academic materials, I believe large swaths of my learning material would be culled by media rights specialists out of fears of copyright infringement under the new expansive powers bequeathed to the Irish newspaper industry. I've seen the mechanisms used by lecturers in the States, in the UK and Ireland and I know that it's not unusual to pay three euro for every copy of an electronic publication that uses an extract protected by this form of copyright claim. It's not good enough to cite a source--you often have to pay for simple citations as well.

As Simon McGarr astutely observes, "in their submission to the Copyright Review Committee in July 2012 those 15 newspapers asserted baldly

'It is the view of NNI that a link to copyright material does constitute infringement of copyright'. (Section 7 National Newspapers of Ireland Further Submission to the Copyright Review Committee)"

Because there is no money in the current austere fiscal environment to pay for attributed sources, from my academic institution, from my reduced income or from a national fund, I'm not going to compromise my parent institution by citing them or their academic degrees in the collateral I distribute to students. I will host the material on a domain with no direct connection to my institution or to me. And I won't cite hyperlinks to newspapers anymore.

After all these cautionary steps, if a billing agency still wishes to extract a payment from me, they can join the queue of claims from like-minded people in West Africa and Nigeria who hit me up with finder's fees every week.

Simon McGarr -- "2012: The Year Irish Newspapers Tried to Destroy the Web" on the McGarr Solicitors blog, December 30, 2012.

Jeff Jarvis -- "Was er sagt" on Google Plus, December 1, 2012. 

Bernie Goldbach creates academic content related to emerging trends. One of those trends is Leistungsschutzrecht.