You used to be able to clip an article out of a newspaper and send it to your friends. Now, if you want to clip an article from many newspapers, they want you to buy copyright clearance to do so, and the charges are exorbitant.
Some newspapers are charging as much as $600 to share an article from their website. That’s a bad business judgment, in my judgment. Fair use of copyrighted material used to mean you could make a few copies of an interesting article for friends and colleagues. Now, everything has a price tag on it.
Another tactic that news media are using is the “free registration” approach to invading your privacy. I was recently quoted in a major North Carolina newspaper (see post below). If you follow the link to their website included in my posting, you’ll be asked to give up a lot of personal information just to read the article, which I could have included on this blog as a PDF file — if I wanted to cough up the $600 license fee. So you have to choose between your identity or your money if you want to tell someone what you read in the paper. Geez! I can make my own PDF files and share them with people for a lot less than that. Does anyone really believe they are leaving THAT much money on the table for the centuries when they didn’t charge you extra to cut up your own newspaper?
What about the clipping services? Do they get shaken down for more than the cost of the newspapers they buy and clip for their clients?
Agence France Press is carrying this to a ridiculous extreme. AFP has sued Google for its news aggregator’s practice of incorporating AFP dispatches and photos into the Google news summaries. It’s almost as if AFP doesn’t want people to read its reports. Fine with me. But a very bad way to encourage people to explore your content.
Shareware developers have always let people try before they buy. What’s the point of distributing news content if you don’t want to make people broadly aware of its existence?