in Japan: No cash? No links

JapanIs is desperation or an innovation to peel payments from online readers? Japan’s third-most popular news website, the Nikkei, is not only charging readers for online content, but making it almost impossible to even access its home page.

The New York Times reports:

“Links to Nikkei’s home page require a detailed written application. Among other things, applicants must spell out their reasons for linking to the site.

In addition, regular readers of the site will also notice that the paper has disabled the ability to right-click — which usually brings up a menu including “copy link address.” The paper’s “link policy” ends on an ominous note: “We may seek damages for any violations of these rules.”

The Nikkei says the rules are intended to make sure its pay wall is not breached and to prevent the linking of its content from “inappropriate” sites.

“In some cases, links to individual stories could lead to stories being manipulated for a purpose other than journalism, for example to promote a certain stock,” the Nikkei said. “There is a danger this could inaccurately affect financial markets.”

But the policy has brought a storm of fury and derision in the blogosphere in Japan.”

The Nikkei isn’t the only Japanese paper restricting access, the NYT reports:

“Instead of going all out on the Web like many American papers, Japan’s top papers have limited online fare, so that readers must buy print editions for full articles. On Daily Yomiuri Online, the web site of another Japanese daily, many articles are short versions, or “stubs,” with no photographs. The same is true for, run by the Asahi Shimbun.”

The NYT continues:

“For now, the print-focused strategy seems to have helped the industry. Newspapers here have lost relatively few of their print subscribers in the last decade, despite a surge in Japanese Internet users. Statistics show that at least one daily newspaper is still delivered for every household in Japan.”

Of course, the NYT is also experimenting with paywalls and charging for frequent access to the site.