Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Right on New York Times Editorial Staff

The New York Times editorial team wrote about the Grokster Supreme Court case and hit the nail on the head.

But when the Supreme Court takes up the issue this week, we hope it considers another party to the dispute: individual creators of music, movies and books, who need to keep getting paid if they are going to keep creating. If their work is suddenly made "free," all of society is likely to suffer.

Movies, music and books require investments of money and time. If their creators cannot make money from them, many will be unwilling or unable to keep producing. Or they may have to finance their work in troubling ways, like by building in product placements or taking money from donors with agendas.
How right the New York Times is. Just imagine what would have happened to the New York Times if the internet suddenly made their newspaper freely distributable over the internet. If people could just "download" NY Times articles for free how could they ever pay their reporters? Just imagine being able to email NY Times content to another person without paying them for their work. Or even worse, think about the websites that could pop up that would quote their work and link to their articles, all without asking people to pay the NY Times a cent. In such a world the NY Times and all other newspapers would obviously not be able to exist. Or they would be forced to "build in product placements or take money from donors with agendas" (or as it is more commonly known: sell advertising) and oh how troubling that would be. Thank goodness none of that ever occurred.

Did they seriously write that without understanding how hilariously ironic their statement was? As I have written before, the NY Times policy of giving away the new news for free and selling the old news makes absolutely no sense. And people would be willing to pay for digital music if the record industry came up with a pricing scheme that made sense for the medium. I personally think subscription based systems like Napster and Real Rhapsody or advertising based ones like Yahoo Launch are the future. Selling music in a piecemeal way made sense in the physical age of music but not in the digital age. Same goes for movies and books (when they finally get a digital book reader to work). The economics totally change when you can distribute digital goods digitally with zero marginal cost vs. digital goods tied to physical goods like books and CDs. To think that the business models won't change as well is completely asinine.

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