Thursday, May 07, 2009

So is the "E-Reader" a way to charge for content?

...does the Kindle form part of Murdoch's digital content masterplan? Apparently not.

"I can assure you, we will not be sending our content rights to the fine people who created the Kindle," he said. "We will control the prices for our content, and we will control the relationship with our customers."

So who is News Corp talking to about an ebook reader? There are a dozen or so products on the market. Kindle has been most successful in bringing newspaper publishers on board but its electronic paper competitors include the Sony Reader, the older iRex iLiad and Fujitsu's FELPia. The latter is colour too – a major advantage over its monochrome Amazon rival.

They would be looking at a subscription-based service on an existing reader or, though more unlikely, their own branded reader. That would be more costly and wouldn't make much sense for the consumer unless it could be opened to other content providers – and could we see News Corp setting itself up with an "open platform" publishing model, a la Facebook and Apple?

From The Guardian.

The battle of the e-readers is setting up to look like the online service wars of the mid nineties: CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy, Minitel et al etc. What happened next: the web. So when Murdoch says: "The current days of the internet will soon be over," we should all wonder what's about to happen next.

Copyright and the future of research

I went to this British Library breakfast on Tuesday and began to worry about the future of academic research, unless proposals like this are implemented . The IP Minister, David Lammy, was present. The backdrop is this: the majority of C20th century books, papers, journals, video, film and radio are in copyright and are not available digitally to academic researchers.

...Chief Executive of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley launched the Library's campaign to ensure that copyright issues of importance to the research and education sector are included in the ongoing public debate on copyright and are reflected in any subsequent legislation, rules or regulations resulting from recent Government initiatives. These suggestions include:

* Public Interest - Many contracts undermine the public interest exceptions in copyright law agreed by Parliament to foster education, learning and creativity. Addressing this issue is crucial so that existing and new exceptions are not over-ridden by contract law.
* Preserving our cultural heritage - Libraries must be able to make preservation of copies of the material they acquire, including web harvesting of the UK domain.
* Orphan works - 40% of the British Library's collections are Orphan Works (where the rightsholder can no longer be found or traced). A legislative solution to Orphan Works would help provide access to the UK's large historical collections over the internet.
*Fair Dealing - Researchers and libraries need to be able to make available "fair dealing copies" of anything in their collections, including sound and film recordings that Fair Dealing does not currently relate to.
*Technology Neutral - Computer based research techniques, such as scientific research, needs to be allowed by future copyright law, in the same way that in the analogue world research activity is protected through "fair dealing".

From the BL newsroom.

To give a good example: how does the historian creating a portrait of the late C20th do so without video, television, radio - and easy digital access to literature? All in one place.

One example that was provided was the film researcher in Edinburgh who must travel to London (and the British Film Institute) to access specific commercially unavailable film content. If she could have the film delivered digitally to her computer in Scotland she would save around £600 in travel grants - each time.

Legislating on future online content

I attended an ISPA Legal Forum at lawyers Clifford Chance yesterday at which Daniel Sanderson, a partner at Clifford Chance, Steve Rowan, Deputy Director, International Policy Directorate, IPO (Intellectual Property Office) and the Director of Legal & Regulatory at Orange, Simon Persoff, spoke in depth about the forthcoming Digital Britain report, and the likely issues that will surround a Digital Rights Agency. Fascinating stuff: in the ongoing attempts to curb "file sharing" it is currently the ISPs that are in the firing line. Many questions were raised: will the ISPs be deluged by Rights Holders' "robots" sending out "infringement violation" messages constantly? What will constitute a "serious consumer infringement"? Will the ISPs be disadvantaged in negotiations with Rights Holders when they attempt to build business deals that involve access and content? Also, how is P2P going to be defined? By my estimation there are at least 29 ways to file share, it is not simply a matter of BitTorrent. Who will pay the legal bills? And will we see 10 million people criminalized?

Trefor Davies, tech director at Timico, blogged:

As a footnote to yesterday’s posts from the ISPA Legal Forum one of the things to have stuck in my mind is that consumers are not being consulted in any part of the discussion surrounding P2P filesharing. Whilst the inter industry argument rages we are in danger of losing out on some basic human rights.

Check out Trefor's other notes on the Forum.

NB. Update: the lawyers Pinsent Mason reported yesterday that:
The Government plans a tenfold increase in the penalties for criminal breaches of intellectual property law. Infringement of IP laws will be punishable by fines of up to £50,000 rather than the current £5,000, according to Government plans.

The measures, though, do not involve increasing the possible jail sentences for online infringement as proposed by 2006's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

Link to consultation document: here.

All Over, End, Start Paying

There's a co-ordinated meme going on, no?

"The current days of the internet will soon be over."

Said Rupert Murdoch. He:
expects to start charging for access to News Corporation's newspaper websites within a year as he strives to fix a "malfunctioning" business model.

From Andrew Clark in The Guardian.

Is it not true that Blackberry and iPhone users in the USA get the WSJ (which, as usual, is cited as the online role-model for this) free? Trying to find that out now.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Obit: fact checking

A WIKIPEDIA hoax by a 22-year-old Dublin student resulted in a fake quote being published in newspaper obituaries around the world.

The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died at the end of March.

It was posted on the online encyclopedia shortly after his death and later appeared in obituaries published in the Guardian, the London Independent, on the BBC Music Magazine website and in Indian and Australian newspapers.

But is this true?

From the Irish Times.

It speaks, it pays

Matt Brittin, Google's UK director, said today the search engine giant has shared $5bn (£3.3bn) with publishers through its contextual ads program, AdSense, in the last year.

"In a world where everyone is a publisher what is needed more than ever is editing skills and brands that help people understand the quality of the content and help them to find the content that is useful. I think there is a big opportunity here," he told the audience of international magazine executives in London.

"The challenge is the model of monetisation online and figuring out how to make that economically viable in the same way as your print products are. Those models are lagging consumer behaviour and all of us are trying to keep up with the consumer."

From The Guardian.

Open Day: tread softly it's my business model

The research councils are looking at what more they can do to support open access to research results after an independent study found that their current policies were having a "limited impact"...They will have to tread carefully because open access threatens to undermine the business model of publishers and learned societies.

From the THES.

Tech Avant Garde Around When Avant Garde Launched: Kindle Users are Old

50% of the people who use Kindles are over 50 years old. Twenty-seven percent were over 60.

Since the Kindle qualifies as "new technology", it is supposed to find its initial market among the young and impressionable. The opposite appears to be true. People who should have fixed habits including reading physical books using reading glasses are buying an electronic book reader instead.

The Kindle is not cheap. With money being tight, it may be that older, affluent consumers are much more likely to spend $359 than the younger, unemployed people who will graduate from college this year.

From Time.

Meme: pay is the new free

In fact, as The Economist noted, the "Real" Freeconomic gig was to grab some VC money on the back of dubious promises about Ad revenue, persuade a whole lot of muppets to generate user generated content, code and karma for free and then sell the f*cker to some behemoth like Google or AOL before the non-free transaction costs killed it

How to make money the Old Fashioned Way is to charge people for things. This is, following the Semantic shift, Pay! is the New Free

Good stuff here at Broadstuff.

Another Credit Card Invitation, but what is the interest rate?

Manchester will this autumn become the first city where people can sign up for an ID card, Jacqui Smith says.
Anyone over 16 in the city who holds a UK passport will be able to apply for a card at a post office or pharmacy.
The home secretary's speech signals her determination to push ahead with the cards - expected to cost people between £30 and £60 each - despite opposition.

From the BBC.

Newspapers and the Bailout - its the politics, stupid!

Folks, a newspaper bailout is coming. Maybe not in time to save the Boston Globe, but certainly in time to save "systemically important" papers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and the LA Times

Joe Weisenthal in the Business Insider on why it's the politics not the economics that will save some of the biggest titles.

Context is at least Bishop

Columbia Tomorrow is a product of the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Missouri School of Journalism. We wanted to serve residents of Columbia with a new type of news site — one that emphasizes not just the latest headlines, but how those headlines fit together into a larger story. To create this site, students and editors from the Missourian, KOMU and RJI spent months researching, reporting, storyboarding, writing, coding, shooting and producing all the content you see here.

Thanks to "News After Newspapers."

Columbia Tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Don't furnish a room; don't pay the rent

We need to weigh the smashed hopes of creative writers against the financial needs of their tutors, who are themselves writers, and earning the kind of money that writing would never supply. A closed little dance: tutors teach students who in turn teach other students, like silversmiths in a medieval guild where a bangle is rarely bought though many are crafted, and everyone lives in a previous world.

Ian Jack on "writers". I met Marina Warner this morning, who said much the same.

Pay: the new business model

The Guardian Media Group chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said today that the Guardian could charge for more specialist parts of its website, such as

"Charging for B2B is the way to go," McCall told delegates at this first session at the World Magazine Congress representing cross-media businesses.

McCall said that the econonmic environment meant publishers were rethinking their business models.

From the Guardian - which has always been a brave pioneer.

..."digital" carries with it a whole set of properties that can be readily understood and that go beyond media and into other areas of society. One key, defining principle of things that are "digital" is that they can be very easily copied, compressed and transmitted. In other words, "digital" and "free" (in every sense, not just the monetary sense) go together like Morecambe and Wise, fish and chips, or banks and bailout.

Also from a recent Guardian - which has always been an insightful observer of new media.

Lovers of the LRB Look Away Now...

...The 160 character review site has arrived. Handy for Me No Leica-style Parkerisms, and Douglas Adams: "awesome" Blippr claims that "good reviews come in small packages".

Er, not really.

Exec Tweets, thanks to my Twitter feed

Courtesy of Lucy Kellaway's tweet: her FT column: about this: executives' tweets. Never before have so many whispers led me to John Battelle.

In The New York Times last week Maureen Dowd made fans of Twitter very cross by suggesting that this craze, which has now afflicted 10m people, is a waste of time.

She may be right for most of us, but for business people, I don’t agree. I think it is potentially the best communication tool there is; the trouble is that most executives are making a complete hash of using it. Either they fill it with mundane personal detail, or they fill it with mundane professional detail – which is possibly worse. The first scores higher on embarrassment; the second on tedium.

From the FT via - well, I got there somehow.

A Platform for Collaborative Journalism: sunlight

Publish2 is announcing a new initiative to help newsrooms faced with declining resources continue to play the watchdog role that is so vital in this time of crisis. Digital Sunlight is our code name for a new feature set that will allow citizens to help journalists cover the stimulus act and the other big stories that affect our lives and our communities by submitting tips, leads, anecdotes, questions, etc. into a global searchable database.

From Publishing 2.0.

How Long Before This?

The world and his dog, it would seem, want Apple to make a netbook. Even that part of the world that has no idea what a netbook is wants Apple to make one.

Ideas of the - short? - term, from MacFormat.

On Twitter and Nicholas Carr

His [Carr] biggest worry is that we are "breaking experience and culture into its smallest possible bits and interrupting ourselves with it." He calls us "nibblers of information," and while he has two dormant Twitter accounts that he mostly uses for research, he’s turning it all off - as he often does with his blog - to focus on his next book.

I am still torn. Twitter, at first a curiosity, has turned into an annoying fad, a way for today's modern celebrity, hiding behind a ghost-tweeter, to seem normal while the untalented dress up their lives like carnival barkers (micro-celebrities, Carr calls them).

Twitter's benefits are drowned out by the trumpets of some revolution and the rising volume of its place as a status symbol, best summed up in Steven Colbert's response on The Today’s Show.

Its promise, I'm afraid, is more banal, more utilitarian. For one, it is re-inventing the fourth estate, rewarding creative and investigative journalism by forcing us to read beyond the spoon-fed news. Each day your own hand-selected group of insight spotters push you into the cracks and crevices of the world; each day you can monitor a new research topic, stumbling upon your wildest StumbleUpons. The sources may sometimes be specious, but that's all a glorious part of the discovery.

Fritz Nelson of Infomation Week on Nick Carr.

It's true. Twitter is my new news-needs feed. And it is a great research tool; once you know who knows what.

A content maker talks launch dates in the digital age

It's time for staggered releases to end. Every day they continue, more people, tired of seeing adverts and reviews of shows and movies they won't be able to buy legitimately for months or years, call up a techie friend and say "that torrenting thing, how do you do that?"

Every day these shows and movies aren't available to buy, worldwide, on the same day, for a reasonably equivalent price, more people are finding out how to get them for nothing. And once they're used to doing it that way, it's going to be harder than ever to get them back.

Naomi Alderman on film downloading in The Guardian.