A new profile of septuagenarian media mogul Rupert Murdoch says that the News Corp. chief is ready to press legal action against Google if talks fail with the search giant over indexing content.
In a lengthy article in New York magazine that hit the Web late on Sunday, writer Gabriel Sherman quotes a source high up in the media industry echelon who says Murdoch is "pretty tightly wound up over Google and has been ready to sue them...He doesn't trust them at all." The lawsuit, presumably, would come if Google refused to stop indexing News Corp. search results without paying a fee for them.
Google says that, with regard to a potential lawsuit, it does not comment on rumors or speculation.
The article also makes note of the reports that began spreading late last year that Murdoch was in talks with Bing, Microsoft's fledgling search engine, over a potential exclusive deal wherein News Corp. content would appear in Bing search results but not Google's or any other search engine. Some reports suggest Microsoft may be willing to help with the removal process.
Google makes it possible for companies to easily pull their content from search results but coyly makes it clear that doing so could result in a huge drop in traffic and hence advertising revenue. In order for Murdoch to pull News Corp. content from Google successfully, he would likely have to convince the heads of other media companies to do the same.
"Google News and web search are a tremendous source of promotion for news organizations, sending them about 100,000 clicks every minute," a statement from Google e-mailed to CNET read. "Each of those visits offers a business opportunity for the publishers to show ads, win loyal readers and sell subscriptions. News publishers can charge for their content while at the same time ensuring that it's discovered through Google--these two are not mutually exclusive. Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose to exclude their material from Google News and web search. But we respect copyright owners' wishes. If publishers don't want their websites to appear in search results, there are easy ways to remove it."
Murdoch, meanwhile, has talked about individual Web users also paying for News Corp. content. The Wall Street Journal, which the company acquired in 2007, is already behind a pay wall and has fared much better than some of its print-media brethren in the aftermath of the global advertising recession.
This post was updated at 7:39 a.m. on Monday with comment from Google.