Time magazine confronts the problem which is plaguing the publishing industry and now spreading to all media – the model for charging for your work breaks down in the face of computing and particularly the Web’s ability to copy just about any work with absolute fidelity at no cost.
The current model for getting paid for your information on display on the Web is based not on subscription with very few exceptions (the Wall Street Journal is the most notable) but rather the advertising model exclusively(banner ads, Google Adsense , etc). But countless organizations are seeing those ad revenue streams taking a swan dive for the past two quarters. So newspapers and magazines, already hard hit are now reeling. So necessity, the Mother of invention has publishers taking a hard look at Digicash like mechansims for charging small sums on the on the Web for their products. But as pointed out in the article, the Web is littered with Beenz, Bitcash, Cybercash, Flooz and Peppercoin – all failed small payment mechanisms and models.
This article explores some of Web charging mechanisms. Unfortunately it looks fragile at best. This is like the Open Source model of programming – you have to give away your software and its code and hope to make money on support, education and related services. As Linux on the Desktop and a thousand and one Open Source firms have found, that is a very hard row to hoe. Of course the current economic turmoil in finance and the economy in general create financial storm conditions of imposing magnitude – making a solution difficult yet imperative. I suspect like Time, I will be writing more about this in the coming months.
Update: NyTimes has a very good Room for Debate on Battle Plan for Newspapers – lots of good viewpoints and consideration of the different payment options among other things.