What’s one of the basic philosophies of the Internet?
By nature, websites are interlinked and content is discovered. Search engines link based on user queries, bloggers publish critique and commentary, and we can drift either aimlessly or with a purpose around cyberspace for hours and hours.
Simply following links.
So when the link is threatened by bureaucrats in repressed organisations that either don’t get the Internet, or want to play in it on their own terms, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
I’ve seen some pretty stupid “linking policies” over time, but they’re usually published by small websites and are a good source of ridicule.
When the big boys of media start shouting about it, you can still ridicule them, but unfortunately there’s also the possibility they might swing things their way.
Take Rupert Murdoch, for example. He’s the head honcho at News International, a beast of a media company that owns… pretty much everything. Or so it seems.
He wants to put a wall around most of his content, and stop search engines linking to it. Apparently, the tradition of linking and fair-use quoting is not OK in his eyes.
He’s not the only one, either.
Despite the fact that many more traditional news organisations have been proven to steal content, without attribution, from blogs and other online sources, when anyone innocently links (with full attribution) to one of their websites, that’s labelled stealing.
There’s even a ridiculous notion that publishers of any size or motivation would need to seek permission for every link they want to use (to an objecting web site).
It’s true that there are many sites that rip off content. No-one’s immune.
Yet I don’t see what the problem is with links to original source material when a writer wishes to comment on that.
It seems that these media moguls don’t want the free publicity that search engines, bloggers and anyone linking via social networks can provide.
Maybe we should all voluntarily stop linking to those publishers that object so much, and simply find sites that embrace the spirit of the Internet instead.
Long live the link!