James Murdoch: Surprised By Schmidt, Search Sites Should Give Us Answers

His father took a seat – next to News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and her new iPad – to hear News Corp (NYSE: NWS) EMEA CEO James Murdoch broaden the pay-for-news debate in to a grand call to salvage the sustainability of all cultural industries, during a lecture in London.

It was a salvo that lauded 300-year-old copyright law in wide-ranging, philosophical terms. But – in his speech and a later session with journalists – Murdoch also got specific, variously criticising those pilfering search engines, the “utopian rhetoric” that all content must be free and a scheme to digitise newspapers for libraries. Here are the key bits, or the full transcript

Murdoch referred continually to the Statute of St Anne, a landmark introduction of literary copyright in to British law in 1710: “We should surely applaud the wisdom and foresight of the legislators of three hundred years ago.”

He sought to drape this struggle not just in the interests of big conglomerates but of the economic livelihoods of 1.2 million ordinary European media workers he said could lose their jobs to piracy by 2015, citing Tera research.

“It’s not just people in advertising agencies in SoHo,” he later told paidContent:UK. “It’s people who are driving trucks, who are craftsman, who are doing technical support work – it’s real jobs and it’s lots of them” … “I’m not just talking about big global media companies – this is writers … these are real jobs, they’re good jobs.”

Surprised by Schmidt

Comments (via FT) from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt that Google is talking over news monetisation with News Corp seemed innocuous enough at the time, even a repetition of previous remarks.

But Murdoch, speaking with reporters, seemed taken aback. “I was surprised that was put in the public realm, but he went and did that,” he said. “There have been discussions – there are discussions around that.

“What was encouraging, from our perspective, is that there’s a recognition that … not making a contribution at all is not really enough; that there is another set of answers required. It’s up to them whether we’re going to be a part of that. (It was) a real recognition that the approach until today doesn’t work.”

Search engines should pay up

Search companies and aggregators skim content from a thousand sources, sell it to clients, scoop up advertising revenues and put little or nothing back into professional newsgathering,” Murdoch’s speech said.

The situation has “moved against the creators in favour of distributors”. “Is it, moreover, unreasonable to suggest that companies that make a living out of indexing and sharing the creativity of others might make a fair contribution to those who create the material they need for their businesses? ”

‘Free’ is not pre-destined

“We should recognise the fundamental role that property rights play in the making of cultural things. Compared to the exciting rhetoric of the need for everything to be free, that might seem unglamorous, unromantic, and indeed hard