Friday, June 10, 2005

On Blogging, IP, And Online Access

In poking around for some background on the post below, I came across this Tech Central Station piece on the increasing number of pay-walls being built by newspaper websites and the effect of that restricted access on bloggers and intellectual discourse generally.

It's a problem I've run into here when linking to New York Times articles - and that's even without upcoming fee requirements for accessing their op-ed material - my readers were largely unwilling to register for the NYT site for free. They certainly won't pony up for pieces.

Bonus for CMC econ junkies: the author Nathan Smith discusses all kinds of fun models for intellectual property - as well as general models for patronage of the arts. Note especially his discussion of French politicial Talleyrand:

Talleyrand was a French politician, who, amazingly, managed to participate in every government of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period, surviving to represent France at the Congress of Vienna. A historian I read, inclined to admire him, reported that "Talleyrand had convictions; he simply preferred to be paid for acting on them." This will be a fitting motto for a different kind of journalist. What I have in mind is not a corrupt hack who will write whatever someone who pays him wants to write. No, the journalist of the tradition of Talleyrand will know and write just what he believes. But he will figure whose self-interest is served by his articles being available to the public, be it George Soros or General Electric or trial lawyers or the Ford Foundation or the People's Republic of China, and persuade them to pay him for it. The rest of us will have to get a bit less snobbish about journalistic independence, but we'll also rely on citizen-bloggers to filter these writers, to rely on them selectively, to applaud them when they're providing good information and good arguments, and to expose them when they pull a fast one.
I highly doubt we're culturally ready to embrace this form of journalistic compensation - but it's likely the most intellectually honest way to go.

Oh, right, someone just point out I never discussed the upcoming gating of the NYT. All of you who wouldn't register for free to read the content will worry no more because soon I won't be linking to NYT op-ed writers - because I won't be able to read them myself. Here's one industry publication's take on the decision which illustrates the tension between free media junkies (like me and my 7,999,999 fellow bloggers) and columnists, publishers, and editors who need to put food on the table and keep their foreign bureaus open.

It's interesting to not the varied approaches newspapers take to selecting which content they'll provide for free and which to offer only to paid subscribers (or print subscribers). The New York Times will still offer everything but its op-ed material for free. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, requires subscription for everything but its op-ed material which is available at OpinionJournal.com. Then there's the Los Angeles Times which, up until recently, walled-off it's Calendar section. Let's not even get into what that says the fine (non-West-Coast based) Tribune folks think about LA readers.

We'll see who wins in the long run - but for bloggers, as DailyKos's Kos says, if my readers can't read it, why would I link to it?

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