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Don't sell copies of the news. Sell the news! · Saturday July 25, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

Is it a copyright infringement to link to the following press release by the Associated Press?

Associated Press to build news registry to protect content

Why do they appear to believe that to make money out of publishing news they must prevent anyone distributing it or discussing it, or even referencing it?

The answer is that nearly all those in the newspaper industry have become irreparably programmed by the ancient cult known as The Press. This brainwashes them to believe that they are in the business of selling copies of the news. That’s why they’ve become obsessed with the idea that if a large number of websites are making unauthorised copies of their news then they are consequently haemorrhaging revenue and must stamp on any copies that haven’t been paid for.

The privilege of copyright they still believe enables them to do this may have worked when a press was the size of smith’s forge or, until recently, the size of an aircraft hangar, but those days are long gone.

Copyright is now defunct and one can no longer sell copies. (Your fellow readers will have balked at this heresy and have now clicked away to an article on prison overcrowding).

So, the mind-bogglingly obvious solution for the producers of news is to sell their product, their news, not copies of it.

That’s because although the market for copies has ended, the market for intellectual work remains. In other words, people still want news, but they’re quite happy making their own copies for nothing thanks very much.

The thing is, if copies cost nothing to make (whoever makes them), then it’s probably time the press dared to reconsider whether the 18th century privilege that grants them a reproduction monopoly remains the best foundation for a 21st century business supposedly adapted to the digital domain and the instantaneous diffusion of the Internet.

I’d say it was time to get into the business of selling intellectual work – digital products for the digital domain. Supporting that is the business of Digital Productions.

Scott Carpenter said 3399 days ago :

Nice post. It really boils down to that — selling copies isn’t going to work anymore. Attempts to prop the old way are doomed, although things can be made quite ugly in the short to medium term as foolish laws are passed.

PS: I like the new look!

Crosbie Fitch said 3399 days ago :

It was going to be a comment elsewhere, but who has time to read comments these days eh? That’s one of the things I tried to address in my ‘new look’ (glad you like it), which was to give front page prominence to comments/dialogue. I think they’re important. Perhaps we can look forward to web technologies that further remove us from the old one-way metaphors of vanity-pressed, author-focused pamphlets with letters from readers buried in the small print or overleaf?



 

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