June 17, 2005

Ad Age Article On Free vs. Paid Online Content [4:28 pm]

Forbes.Com’s Internet Audience-Building Secret [pdf]

To Web cognoscenti, the ad-supported vs. paid content argument is so 2001.

[...] Even as Dow Jones — long the paid-for poster child — revealed plans to hike subscription rates and The New York Times found some columnists, archives and other assets to hide behind a $50 curtain, several others such as AOL, The Los Angeles Times and CNN moved in the opposite direction, dismantling their toll booths.

So it’s horses for courses then. Some will charge, others won’t, and there’ll be many middle-ground solutions. Nothing to debate.

But wait. What if one side is backing the wrong horse? What if the pay-to-play guys are missing an opportunity and the advocates of a “free” Internet are more than just naive advocates of egalitarianism?

The thought occurred to me when I read a report about American Business Media’s spring conference on BtoBonline.com. It contained this gem: “Responding to an audience question about when Forbes.com will surpass the print edition in terms of revenue, Jim Spanfeller, president-CEO of Forbes.com, said: ‘Probably in about 18 to 20 months.’”

[...] How has [Forbes] come so far in the digital realm so fast? Largely by being, in almost every regard, free, and therefore part of the open-to-all, continuous conversation that takes place via forums, blogs and links all over the Net. That is not to take anything away from Forbes.com’s editorial package, which is highly readable, responsive and totally tuned to Web viewers.

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Format Lifecycle Data Point [9:55 am]

Not long left for cassette tapes — the first of the “music piracy” formats?

From its creation in the 1960s through to its peak of popularity in the 1980s, the cassette has been a part of music culture for 40 years.

But industry experts believe it does not have long left, at least in the West.

[...] “Cassette albums have declined quite significantly since their peak in 1989 when they were selling 83 million units in the UK,” Matt Phillips of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) told BBC World Service’s The Music Biz programme.

“Last year we saw that there were about 900,000 units sold. It’s clear to see that cassette sales are dwindling fast.”

[...] Oddly, Philips did not charge royalties on their cassette patent, allowing numerous other companies to use their design for free. This ensured the quick acceptance of it as a new form of media.

[...] The music industry itself, however, remained concerned about cassettes, in particular the ability of people to record music on them.

They feared piracy, arguing that home taping was “killing music”, a similar argument to the one occurring today over downloading.

Techdirt’s Now The Cassette Tape Is Dying?

Later: some additional information about the licensing arrangements for cassettes - The decline of the audiocassette

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OT: *Really* Sticking It To Dr. Frist [8:46 am]

Where’s The Apology?

In an appearance yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Frist insisted: “I raised the question, ‘Is she in a persistent vegetative state or not?’ I never made the diagnosis, never said that she was not.”

Well, that depends on the meaning of “diagnosis.” In the midst of his impressively detailed medical review, Frist declared flatly: “Terri’s brother told me Terri laughs, smiles, and tries to speak. That doesn’t sound like a woman in a persistent vegetative state.”

So, Frist wanted to be seen as having the medical expertise to support his conclusion when doing so was convenient — and now wants us to think he did nothing of the sort.

The Majority Leader’s back-and-fill operation: Frist Defends Remarks on Schiavo Case

Later: Ellen Goodman - Views That Facts Can’t Shake [pdf]

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“Let’s Take It, To the Limit, One More Time” [8:31 am]

Several are pointing to this particular expression of copyright extremism: Copyright cops crack down on cooks over cakes - not to mention the spirited, if ill-informed, discussion that arose from its posting over at BoingBoing. Wendy Seltzer points out:

Equally amazing, though, are the comments posted in the boingBoing thread: lawyers write that IP requires companies to “police” their property or lose it; non-lawyers argue that everything other than a direct copy is non-infringing. Neither is true: copyright is never lost by non-enforcement, and trademark demands policing only against confusing designations of source. Non-identical copies can still be derivative works — either infringing or fair use as the case may be. But at the end of the day, no one’s rights are threatened by “unauthorized” cake decorating. As my colleague Jason notes, the whole discussion shows how polarized the “intellectual property” debates have become — and how far out of touch with ordinary people’s expectations.

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