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February 2, 2005
Information wants to be paid for
Mark Glaser has put up a long and thoughtful piece summarizing the issues around pay-for-access archives of news content. This issue is particularly troublesome for bloggers and other instapundits who would like to be able to point to content in authoritative sources like nytimes.com but if they do so they risk their links becoming dead after a couple days.
Nobody's denying that the papers own this content. And they do realize some revenue from paid access to the archive content as well as database services such as LexisNexis. The argument revolves around what it means to be a source of record if that record only exists for a short time. I doubt many people dig through the archives of blogs - even Copyfight. But the fact that the archives are stable means that search engines can find and index the content. It means that the cross-referencing that makes the Web a vital peer communications medium can continue. But many newspapers continue to stand apart, protecting what may be in fact a tiny revenue stream rather than realizing the gains of being the source of record on the Web.
In my blogging I try very hard not to cite NY Times or Boston Globe (boston.com) stories because I know they'll go away. There are other sources, such as sfgate.com, which I consider equally authoritative and much more blog- and Web-friendly. Given the chance, I'll put up a link to them instead. Does that drive traffic and revenue for them? I dunno. But it sure as heck doesn't drive any for the gray lady.
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