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Rupert Murdoch’s success as one of the first newspaper publishers to put material online has now backfired. He is calling search engines such as Google News and Digg thieves for using their copyrighted content to fatten their own pockets.

“They are feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others. And their almost wholesale misappropriation of our stories is not ‘fair use.’ To be impolite, it’s theft,” Murdoch said in November.

As a result, publications such as National Post and Winnipeg Free Press may be making their readers pay, or worse, change copyright laws.

But Google claims that it generates a lot of traffic for newspaper websites, and if any publication wants its content off the engine it can add a simple programming code on to its website. Moreover, Sara Rotman Epps, a media analyst at Forrester Research, argues that Google is often used as a scapegoat for newspapers’ decline in subscriptions and advertisements.

If copyright laws are changed, journalists, especially web reporters, will have to find original content for their articles. And as bad as this sounds, I feel worse for the source who could be interviewed 50 times or more on the same subject.

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About the author

Joyce Yip was the Deputy Production Editor for the Summer 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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