Online News Aggregation: Is It On Its Way Out?

news aggregation site law
Will news aggregation sites have to close up shop, soon? Some people think so, including Matt Drudge.

Will it soon be illegal to aggregate news links? Some people think so – including Matt Drudge – founder of the right-wing news site,

Are We Headed For a “Content Net Neutrality” Battle?

For years, citizens, politicians and businesses have deliberated the pros and cons of so-called “net neutrality.” The main debate: Is it fair for ISPs to charge money for priority bandwidth status – in essence creating an HOV fast lane for mega-corps who can cough up big bucks?

Well, some pundits are speculating that the spirit of that debate may also trickle down to news aggregator websites.

SCOTUS Rep Warns Drudge?

Political website pioneer, Matt Drudge, recently spoke publically on the issue of “content neutrality” (our term, not his). In his estimation, content aggregation is under attack by large corporations eager to monopolize the media. According to the Web-eprenuer, the powers-that-be are on the verge of manipulating copyright laws to take control of hearts, minds and bandwidth.

In a recent interview, Drudge said that a Supreme Court justice told him, “It’s over for [].” The judicial canary allegedly explained:

“They’ve got the votes now to enforce copyright law; you’re out of there. They’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines.”

If true, the threatened online copyright laws would effectively demolish Drudge’s website – and whole lot of other small, online media and opinion outlets.

Valid Conspiracy Concern or Fear Mongering?

According to Drudge, politicians are currently debating the “cost” of links. If lawmakers decide that content creators can dictate where their links live, news aggregators, like Google, will likely pay for the privilege. And while The Big G can afford to shell out cash for hyperlinks (and probably a small continent), most “indie” sites probably can’t.

Drudge hypothesized that the demise of independent news sites will transform the Internet into a corporate cog devoid of citizens’ voices.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, Drudge does have a history for hyperbolic speech – and an arguable tendency to present a molehill as the fourth coming of Mount Vesuvius. But in this instance, perhaps he has a point? After all, imagine an Internet where large corporations simply pay for priority? An Internet where you could easily be sued for linking? What would happen to “fair use” rights?

Over the next month, elected officials will be holding meetings with industry players to discuss the future of online copyright law. Expect the Internet to explode with opinions.

Again, this is all premature conjecture, but it’s worth a thought.

Article Sources

Takala, R. (2015, October 14). Lawmakers weigh online rules that could affect Drudge, other sites. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from

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