Post a link, become a pirate -

Posting a link to a news story from Ireland might prove to be an expensive business.

According to this site (hat tip Fark) a group of Irish newspapers have decided that the way to make cash from the web is to bill anyone who links to one of their stories.

The National Newspapers of Ireland group has adopted a new licensing scheme where it expects websites to pay to link to one of its members.

Apparently it has been sending out notices demanding payment and effectively calling anyone who legitimately links to one of their stories a pirate.

So far they have written to Women's Aid, because they had linked to articles in newspapers carrying positive stories about their fundraising efforts.

At the moment the going rate is 100 for a link. The group of 15 newspapers thinks mentioning an article on a website is copyright infringement.

The cunning plan is that Irish newspapers want everyone else to pay for the privilege of giving their member websites more traffic.

There is no case law to back this up. Indeed there is a lot of EU case law which suggests that there needs to be legislation to get anything remotely like this.

Publishers have so far been targeting Google for its use of news stories in Google's search results. It seems that the National Newspapers of Ireland is not interested in taking on Google. After all, they have lawyers. Instead it is interested in demanding cash from blog owners.

It does not really seem to understand where this sort of thing is going.

In a Belgian settlement after Google lost the court case, the search engine complied with the judge's order to delist the newspapers from the search engine. As a result, the newspapers' websites lost shedloads of traffic and cash. 

With this bizarre case, the newspaper group doesn't seem to understand that a link is free advertising if you are running a web page yourself.

If you take it another step further it means that the newspapers themselves will have to pay for links to their advertisers.