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Murdoch Weighs Blocking News From Google Search

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is at war against Google. He's fed up with Google's search engine is serving up the journalistic content of his new outlets without any compensation.

So he is talking increasingly about blocking Google searches once his newspapers go behind a pay wall.

An excerpt from the guardian.com:

In an interview with Sky News Australia, the mogul 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. But 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."

Murdoch may be able to single-handedly reverse the course of creative destruction symbolized by the Internet, which has blasted the paid-content business models of so many media companies out of the water and decimated their advertising.

But only the brave-hearted would bet against Google and the Internet.

The Wall Street Journal, which Murdoch acquired, is about the only general-interest news outlet that has succeeded in placing its wsj.com content behind a pay wall. Other news outlets, like the New York Times (Remember Times Select?) have tried but it hasn't worked out.

Putting his properties behind a pay wall would only give a competitive advantage to all those news sites that don't. While many news organizations and gurus have brainstormed for years about payment systems—including micropayments—that would allow news outlets to extract payment from consumers to help pay the costs of people producing content, that hasn't happened yet.

Meanwhile, Google is really the straw that stirs the drink for media websites. If Murdoch were to takes steps to hide his content from Google, it might be the worst case yet of a self-inflicted wound in the Internet age. And that's saying a lot.

So Murdoch may be fighting with Google all by himself. It's difficult to see a lot of other media companies following him down that plank. Unless, of course, he succeeds.