Who owns the news?

For those who didn’t make it to last week’s IPRIA / CMCL /MBS Cite seminar, the organisers have helpfully posted the videos and some of the slides.

Of course, from a purely legalistic point of view, the copyright owner owns at least his/her/its “expression” of the news and, as the various attempts to set up pay-walls and the like expose, website owners can “block” Google/Bing’s spiders and linking if they really, really want to (see Danny Sullivan via here).

Over at Techcrunch, John Biggs speculates that paywalls and the era of micro-payments are coming. Meanwhile, the Guardian appears to be making a bid to become the blogosphere’s source of reported news (lid dip, @lods1211) which might be thought of as an application of Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do?

Now, I’m all in favour of News Corp trying to put the lid on linking to its websites and the Guardian taking a different strategy. Afterall, that might be thought the essence of competition. More generally, however, do we really want to develop some additional legal protection that makes linking (when it is not technologically blocked) some sort of infringement?

Wouldn’t that mean “Bye bye world wide web” (as we know and use it)?