Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another silo to compete with AP

Image from Stuck in Customs under a Creative Commons license

The New York Times ran this article:

Journalism Online Inc., aims to supply publishers with ready-made tools to charge Internet fees, an idea that has gained sudden currency as advertising revenue plummets, but whose prospects of success are doubted by many media analysts. The company, which says it may have a product ready by the fall, says the advantages it offers are that publishers would not have to develop their own systems, and readers could use a single system for many different publications.

I'm sure that many pooh-pooh the idea, since sites such as Google and FriendFeed serve as "a single system," and people can create their own "single system" by subscribing to a range of feeds or creating a personal Alltop (see Louis Gray's Alltop) or MeeHive (see Kol Tregaskes' hive). However, remember that the majority of the population is by definition NOT early adopters, and a single website that provides access to a number of publications may sound attractive.

But will people pay for it?

As the company envisions the system, a non-paying reader on a magazine or newspaper site would reach a certain point and see a page asking for payment — the Journalism Online system, operating within the publication’s Web site. But a reader who wanted a subscription to multiple sites would go directly to the new company’s own site.

“The most important thing is it’s simple to use,” Mr. Brill said in an interview. “Much of the barrier to charging online is the transaction friction, as opposed to the actual cost. With this system, you’d have a single password, give your credit number just once.”

He said that for the unlimited subscriptions, “we’re playing with a figure of $15 a month.”

Oh, and anyone else who wanted access to the content would also have to pay:

The company also plans to negotiate licensing and royalty fees with search engines and news aggregators for the use of the publications’ work, and has retained Mr. Boies’ law firm, Boies Schiller & Flexner, for that work. That parallels a recent announcement by The Associated Press that it, too, planned to pursue unlicensed use of published material.

And, regarding the AP "four-word" brouhaha to which I've referred on occasion:

Experts say that it is not clear what legal recourse publishers have against major sites that simply cite articles and provide links to them, rather than reproducing them.

Which reminds me - for more information, the New York Times article is here, if you want more information.
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