The age of free content is OVER… soon

It had to happen someday, didn’t it? There we were thinking that the internets were a never-ending free stuff Why buy the Guardian when you can read it online? Why buy movies when you can Limewire them? My line of work has meant that I have spent a lot of time dissecting the implications of the Digital Britain report and more broadly, contemplating what needs to be done to create a sustainable internet. Then News Corp said the ‘unthinkable’: content will have to be paid for in future. And since then there has been a snowball effect, with the Washington post working out flexible payment systems, other papers mooting microplayments. Even my favourite messageboard, LFGSS is working out a structure for charging its members.

I wonder whether the industry practice of charging will spread widely enough to encourage changes in how people view consuming content online? Will there be a risk in terms of shutting out those already alienated by the digital divide? I’d welcome your thoughts.

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One comment

  1. ester · May 25, 2009

    Funny you should post this up, only a few days ago i starting thinking of the systems being engineered to fund this (purely from geeky technical prospective). You can call it billing, but to enforce will definately be a long cycle before it starts to affect the masses. The biggest kick-starters have been your paypals and moneybookers.com who have “installed” tight security on their websites to avoid rising online fraud. And the way to achieve this was to allow no access (old or new users) unless you allow the system to hit your bank account and verify you. They do this my deducting a figure less than £1 from your bank account and you verify this with the amount withdrawn. Although this petty amount gets refunded back to you, you have already become that customer in demand. The urgency in topping up that skype account to resume an important long distance phone call or interview. Or the last 15min of that online bid on ebay for that bargain digitial camera! Youve got to allow moneybookers.com to verify you (randomly) getting into your bank account- no verification no camera.

    Now lets apply this to other internet dependancies we have somehow nurtured….your thoughts on that!?

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