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Copyright madness: Pay-Per-Link… but who cares if we bring you traffic

It’s not an “April fool’s” article – this is real and it is happening in Ireland in the 21st century. Turns out that NNI (National Newspapers of Ireland) claims a license fee through NLI (Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd.) if you link to one of the 15 titles that are members of NNI. In practice it means that linking to an article on “The Irish Times” will cost you 300 euro in a license fee.

Agents and lawyers claim that the act of linking represents a will of “copying” the material – hence – it does constitute infringement of copyright. This is not the first time something like that appears – Google received similar threats in Belgium, Germany and France for linking and using snippets of articles. I must admit that the Irish definitely stand above the crowd.

It sounds insane, because when you look at traffic sources it is obvious, that links are one of the most important ingredients:

  • if someone links to you – your site becomes more important
  • as a result you get more traffic; more traffic equals more exposure
  • more exposure means you can get more money through advertising – or sell more subscriptions

NNI says that “deep-linking” (to an exact article/portion of information) should be protected by copyright. Hello?! The whole web is made of links! (this is why Google is so successful)

That’s the power and weakness of the Internet. Claiming 300 euro for “the right of linking” is truly insane and might backfire – bad PR, massive removal of links that will be followed by a SEO disaster. Another interesting fact – this license “business” wasn’t mentioned in the ink-press at all.

In the end the thing I am truly afraid of is that this idea gets through the legalese in Ireland and the rest of the Europe will follow. That will be the beginning of the end of information.

Credits/sources/read more:

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