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Ron Miller: Spain's link tax taxes my patience

Ron Miller | Aug. 5, 2014
The so-called Google tax is a desperate and wrongheaded gambit to save traditional newspapers.

While newspapers are at least partly correct to blame the Internet for their troubles, they should recognize that their own mismanagement also played a key role. Newspapers everywhere waited much too long to take the Internet seriously, and while virtually every surviving newspaper has a website now, they almost invariably treat those sites as a necessary evil, as something separate from the news collection and delivery that they do with print.

Unable to innovate to compete with more nimble publications and services born online, some traditional news outlets have turned to the last vestige of the disrupted. If they can't sue them into submission, they try to convince clueless legislators who have no idea about technology or how the online world works to do their bidding. In fact, they are simply sealing their fate a little tighter by shutting down a great avenue to promote their online business.

In 2014, links are good things. Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Why would you ever want to limit its access to your content? But if that's the way Spain's daily newspapers really feel, I say go ahead and activate robots.txt. Then let's see how well they're doing in six months. Something tells me they'll be eager to let Google back in, because linking makes the World Wide Web go around. To limit it in any way would be madness.


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