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.