Will Web Aggregators Pay for Content?

GBN SmallThe Internet is still a newborn. We like to think we see those first teeth coming in, but a hundred years from now our broadband, websites, and keyboards will seem Neanderthal.

Part of those first sleepless nights has been determining what the business model will be for information production and distribution. At this point, policing copyright infringement and gross paraphrasing is nearly impossible. But there are techies out there working tirelessly to invent the software which will earn them their “get out of the game” money.

One of their prospective clients is News Corp. (NWS) CEO Rupert Murdoch. During a Federal Trade Commission workshop on journalism, Murdoch stated:

“There are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purpose without contributing a penny to its production. Content creators bear all the costs, while aggregators enjoy many of the benefits. In the long term, this is untenable.”

Those are fighting words from someone who sends out millions of dollars of paychecks to journalists whose jobs include researching, fact-checking, and writing stories. However, I don’t understand Murdoch’s beef with aggregators like Google which merely post a headline and brief description. I don’t think such link-backs eat into readership.

On the other hand, I can see how content producers may be displeased with two of my favorite aggregators: The Week and The Daily Beast. Avid readers of these two excellent resources have no reason to continue on to the original article. That would be like reading Cliff’s Notes, then reading the full book word-for-word. What’s the point?

I find this experiment to be very interesting. Given that information is literally as ubiquitous as air, the monetization process will be historical.

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