The new owner of the Tribune Company, Sam Zell, has previously stated that his interest in purchasing the media conglomerate was purely financial. He is wasting no time in throwing out challenges to those he perceives as stepping on his profit opportunities:
“If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content for nothing, what would Google do? We have a situation today where effectively the content is being paid for by the newspapers and stolen by Google, etcetera. That can last for a short time, but it can’t last forever. I think Google and the boys understand that. We’re going to see new deals and new formulas in the media space that reflect the reality of cost benefit.”
That’s pretty tough talk for a guy who has never spent a single day working in media. Zell callously accuses Google, and thousands of other on- and off-line publishers, of theft for merely printing excerpts of stories and links to the source. His ignorance of fair-use threatens to criminalize methods of distributing information that are both legal and beneficial to a free society.
If Zell intends to raise revenue by reversing long-held precedents in journalism, he better expect some blowback. David Garrity, a research director with an investment bank, believes Zell will try to work out settlements with the Googles of the world, but may resort to litigation. It seems appropriate that the bank Garrity represents is Dinosaur Securities, because the world has long since evolved past the stage where news can be hoarded by corporate misers.