On Bloomberg this morning, Erik Shatzker, Carole Massar, and I discussed Rupert Murdoch’s recent war against Google, in which the mogul has accused Google News of “stealing” his content when in fact Google is sending him boatloads of readers for free.
I suspect that what Rupert’s really trying to do here is whip up solidarity among the traditional news organisation in hopes that Google will try to win some PR points by throwing him a bone.
(What kind of bone? A revenue share on the ad revenue Google makes from Google News pages).
This is a ludicrous position, and Google should stick to its guns. It sends Rupert and other newspaper moguls millions of readers for free. If Google News didn’t exist, in fact, Rupert probably would be offering to pay Google for traffic referrals, rather than demanding that they pay him.
Will Rupert follow through on his threat to pull his content off Google News? If Google doesn’t cave, yes, he probably will. Doing so will only cost him 10%-15% of revenue, in our estimation, and he can handle that. At least for a while.
Will pulling WSJ content off Google News be a smart business move?
No. The news aggregation genii is out of the bottle, and no amount of jawboning will stuff it back in.
Meanwhile, if Rupert does browbeat Google into throwing him some money, we’d be glad to take some, too. We make content that Google is currently kind enough to include in Google News. Until now, we thought we should just thank Google profusely for all this free traffic they’re sending us. If Rupert’s going to get paid for his free traffic referrals, however, we’re certainly going to want to get paid, too.