Saturday, November 8, 2008

"information is not free..."

The infamous geewhy sent me a link to this piece from The Century Foundation that, in the face of Google’s $125 million settlement with book publishers vis-a-vis lawsuits challenging the right to digitize copyrighted books for search and distribution without paying for them, wonders why newspapers and news mags aren't getting paid when their stories pop up on Google and other search engines.

And, I might add, on blogs (like this), which would be nothing but silly first-person riffs without links to the work of reporters out there doing the job.

While the majority of bloggers make no money whatsoever, Google makes boatloads. Shouldn't there be a way to share the wealth they make off the backs of the folks who actually do the work? It's a great question, and as the piece points out, an urgent one:

"There is a running and increasingly urgent dialogue under way about new business models for newsgathering in which the brutal realities of lost advertising and circulation are balanced against the still paltry revenues generated by the online newspapers and news magazines. Audiences for news from traditional providers are stratospheric. (On September 29, the day the first Bush bailout proposal was voted down by the House and the Dow Jones went down almost 800 points, the New York Times Web site had 10 million visitors and 42.7 million page views.) And yet the news proprietors have chosen or been unable to do what the pokey old book publisher and authors did: take on Google for what is an absolutely core issue of fairness and increasingly of survival."

The story ends:

"... But the issue itself is very clear: the collection of quality news is expensive, and it is seriously threatened. Google drives a very hard bargain in pursuing its business interests, but can be brought around by persistence and grit. There is a vast amount of money changing hands for news these days. A way has to be found—and fast—for those now making money from the distribution of news to pay for it."

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