CMP blocks some incoming links

Clarification: An earlier version of this post stated, "CMP Media is blocking links from Google News." CMP tells CyberJournalist.net today that those cases must have been mistakes and it does not intentionally block links from Google News, only from competitors. See below for more of CMP's comments.

CMP Media is intentionally blocking links from certain competing technology news sites, such as LinuxToday and Cnet, and has inadvertently blocked some incoming links from Google News.

When clicking on at least two examples of links on Google News to headlines on one of CMP Media's technology publications this week, you got this message:

Welcome to CMP Media and our unparalleled collection of techhnology news and information sites. Our primary business objective is to supply the news and information you need to make informed technology and business decisions.

Unfortunately, we cannot satisfy the request to link to our content from the site that referred you to us. That site has chosen to reproduce a significant amount of our content in a manner that we deem to be outside the bounds of fair use on the World Wide Web. We have a major, ongoing investment in producing high-quality, authoritative content and we intend to protect that content vigorously. We have explained our decision to the site in question and asked that they cease the practice of lifting significant portions of our content. We have also advised them of other, acceptable means of linking to our content. We will revisit this decision if and when that site complies with our policies, which are the very same policies we follow when linking to content created by other companies.

Thank you for helping us protect our intellectual property.

One reader reported a similar experience this week. And a quick Google search shows at least one other person who encountered the same redirect back in March.

Blocking incoming links from the largest search engine on the planet?!? What a foolish idea! Maybe one could make a compelling argument for doing so IF Google was monetizing its news search and placing ads next to CMP and other content. But Google News isn't do that... not yet at least.

UPDATE FROM CMP (6/25): CMP says it did not intend to block incoming links from Google News, only for certain competitor sites it feels are using too much of its content when linking. "One possibility for how that mistake occurred is that we may have inadvertently installed a broader block while we were evolving our blocking strategy," writes Mike Azzara, CMP's vice president in charge of Internet business.

Azzara also said that the blocking page displayed above has been replaced with a new version, though it is still viewable as of today. "We have replaced it with a page that intercepts a visitor, explains our position on matters of competitors stealing our content, and then allows the visitor to proceed to their originally clicked-for destination," he said.

"...Because we are in a transition from one technology platform to another, a few sites still do use the old blocking page that you encountered. I suspect that the Google News snafu stems from something related to the vagaries of that transition," he said.

This makes more sense. It's certainly within CMP's rights to want to block incoming links from competitors, particularly if they are violating fair use. The new strategy makes much more sense, though, because that still allows readers to read their content (and see their ads).

CMP appears to be handling this smartly; nevertheless, this case is a very good example of how blocking technology isn't foolproof.

Jun 24, 2004 | E-MAIL | SAVE | PRINT | PERMALINK | DISCUSS(15)


15 comments about 'CMP blocks some incoming links'

I completely agree with CMPs decision to block content from Google. Even though Google doesnt sell ads next to the content they aggragate, they are still monetizing that content directly by building a community of news seekers by displaying others work on their site. Users who would have otherwise visited news and media sites now visit Googles News channel to get the summary of daily news. Those visiting users then perform Google searches and use other Google services so YES Google is monetizing that content, just not by selling adjacent ads.

Posted by Rafael Cosentino at June 24, 2004 9:15 AM

Sigh. CMP is ready to shoot itself again. It's already lost much of the tech audience it had years ago by refusing to deal with changing realities. Google will probably just stop searching CMP altogether, and CMP will happily produce content that no one reads until they go out of business. What's particularly funny is their attempt to use the legal concept of "fair use" to justify their actions. Google News excerpts don't come anywhere near violating the limitations of legal fair use, and CMP knows it, or thy would try using the legal system. So instead they are trying to co-opt a legal phrase and change the meaning. (Ironically, Google has always been on very shaky legal ground with its caching of web pages, but here they are on extremely firm ground legally)

Posted by Greg Andrew at June 24, 2004 11:43 AM

So let me get this straight: Google harvested 'teaser' content from CMP, and the user was interested enough to click and try to read more at CMP - where CMP presumably earns money from pageviews and eyeballs. And CMP is rejecting these inbound links? Excellent way to decrease revenue.

Posted by Michael J. at June 24, 2004 12:53 PM

Google's business model is parasitic. It uses other sites' content, without paying them and without their permission, then competes with commmercial sites by selling advertising at cheaper rates, since it has no investment in content. Google is the Wall-Mart of the Internet. The amount of content Google extracts from sites goes far beyond the intent of fair use, even without considering the entire pages it "archives".

Posted by Jim Fawcette at June 24, 2004 2:08 PM


Google News doesn't carry advertising (at least not at the moment). See http://www.news.google.com/

I use Google News as a major part of my research/current awareness work for my employer. As a result, I find myself reading/linking to the websites of news sources that I would never have heard of, otherwise. If everyone did what CMP has done here, I would go back to visiting the websites of a few major news sources (CNN, NY Times, Times (London) etc). IMHO Google News is *helping* these smaller sites, because without GN, people like me would never visit them.

And while IANAL, I feel that Google's excerpting of one or two sentences from each webpage falls well within fair use (not to mention that it's pretty easy to design a webpage that *isn't* indexed by search engines, right?)

Posted by Simon Chamberlain at June 24, 2004 4:16 PM

I don't know where this item came from, but it is wrong. CMP does not and has never blocked access from Google or any other search engine. It's easily testable, try it yourself.

We do, however, intercept links from certain competitors who reproduce significant portions of our stories on their own pages -- sometimes even stealing the first link-- before they finally post a link to our original material. In most cases, the intercept we put up allows the reader to then click to their intended destination. Other major technology publishers, including IDG, do similar things.

Posted by Fredric Paul - TechWeb at June 24, 2004 11:39 PM

For example, click on any of the CMP stories on this Google News page: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&edition=us&ie=UTF-8&q=techweb+msn&btnG=Search+News

Posted by Fredric Paul - TechWeb at June 24, 2004 11:46 PM

Reading over this thread, I am coming to understand why so many people hate us journalists so much.

I am an editor at CMP. Disclaimer: I'm speaking for myself here, not for the company.

I came across this article and thread last night, and had to sit on my hands from posting something intemperate. The first thing I did after reading the article is go to Google News and click on some links to our articles. Nope, no blockage. Got through just fine.

We're not blocking Google News! We love Google News! Like most people doing business on the web, we spend significant time and effort trying to figure out how to get Google to link to us more than they already do.

I mean, sheesh, I even have Google Tech News as my browser home page.

So the article is fine, except for being completely and utterly without any foundation. Which I was able to figure out after doing about a minute of research at midnight last night. I didn't even have to leave my chair to do it.

Of course, YOU shouldn't make Google News your home page. You should make Security Pipeline or Linux Pipeline, the sites I edit, your home page. Or TechWeb, or InformationWeek.com, or one of our other excellent webzines. I don't do that myself because we already know what's on those pages - we put it there - and I want to know what other people are saying.

Posted by Mitch Wagner at June 25, 2004 10:12 AM

I investigated. But since I'm not a journalist, nobody reads me ...


Posted by Seth Finkelstein at June 25, 2004 10:38 AM

Seth, I see you did investigate and I'm grateful for it. Thank you.

Posted by Mitch Wagner at June 25, 2004 1:51 PM

Mitch, sorry. Should have done some basic fact checking before jumping to conclusions.

Posted by Simon Chamberlain at June 25, 2004 4:53 PM

Thank you, Simon.

Posted by Mitch Wagner at June 25, 2004 6:17 PM

One other thing though: We don't block links from competitors as such. We do block them from sites that don't respect fair use. This may be hair-splitting, since you might argue that those sites are by definition, competitors.

But we don't block from ALL competitors; if a competitor wants to link to one of our articles they are welcome to do so ... so long as they respect fair use.

Also: I'd say what's called for here is not a "clarification," it's a correction or even a retraction. The article wasn't unclear, it was WRONG.

Posted by Mitch Wagner at June 25, 2004 6:21 PM

Mitch, that's just not fair. The original posting said that links from Google News were being blocked, which was true.

It did not say whether or not that was intentional. It just stated what was witnessed, by myself and others, and quoted the note on your site, in its entirety.

The posting was updated to clarify that CMP says the Google News blocks were an accident, and that only links blocked from other sites were intentional.

Posted by Editor at June 25, 2004 6:34 PM

Good evening. Humor is also a way of saying something serious.
I am from Bahamas and , too, and now am writing in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "American airlines offers discount airfares and cheap airline tickets to the usa all year round."

Waiting for a reply :P, Bohdana.

Posted by Bohdana at April 4, 2009 1:56 AM

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