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Irish newspaper dinosaurs attempt to charge for links

We’re not sure which natural history adage to search for on this one. Perhaps the line about locking the stable door long after the horse has bolted? Or maybe the one about the dinosaurs becoming extinct because of their tiny brains?

The dinosaurs of the Irish press, nostalgic for the good old days when a journalist could enjoy a few pints of the black stuff before writing a 3000 word treatise on Samuel Beckett’s bowling action, are attempting to claw back some cash from the impertinent upstarts of the internet, so they are.

They may have been a little more judicious about their first choice of target though. Women’s Aid, a charity that deals with domestic violence, were told that if they wanted to link to newspaper articles on their website, they would have to pay a subscription fee. They were informed that the fee was 300 euros for the use of up to five links.

It was a bizarre stance given the widespread practice of linking to news stories (and the reliance by many news sites on the traffic coming through that route). Women’s Aid solicitor Simon McGarr revealed the demands in a blog post entitled "2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web."

The National Newspapers of Ireland, a body which represents most of the Irish print media, issued a statement: "The display and transmission of links does constitute an infringement of copyright. There is a distinction between the sending and receipt of links for personal use on the one hand and the sending and receipt of links for commercial purposes on the other. NNI and its newspaper members never have had any difficulty with people displaying links for personal use."

Ireland’s most prestigious newspaper, The Irish Times, made it clear it did not believe "linking was copyrightable" and encouraged readers to share articles.

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