Paywalls, content and execution – two examples a world apart.

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paywallsRecent developments in two very different segments of the publishing industry show us how execution of an idea can make or break it.

Andrew Sullivan a highly successful blogger of 12 years originally from The Daily Beast has decided to up sticks and move to his own ad-free site and payment platform. The model allows for subscribers to sign up to a subscription with a certain number of articles available for no fee followed by the subscription charge.

So Andrew’s cool ‘silicon valley-esque’ model is saying:

“You’ll have a limited number of free read-ons a month, before we hit you up for $19.99. Everything else on the Dish will remain free. No link from another blog to us will ever be counted for the meter – so no blogger or writer need ever worry that a link to us will push their readers into a paywall. It won’t. Ever. There is no paywall. Just a freemium-based meter.” From here

Within 24 hours the site had reached $300,000+ in backing with over 12,000 people signing up for access which will be advertisement free.

Meanwhile in December of 2012 news broke via a legal blog about the ‘National Newspapers of Ireland’ group latest approach to charging for the use of it’s links. So where Andrew is covering his costs, building a brand and subscriber base, the NNI is planning on being lazy.

The request made was to magazine ‘Women’s Aid’ (a charity magazine) the report of which is outlined here. Forbes also picked up on this information today here.

In Ireland (a county which is considered at the forefront of copyright and intellectual property law) The NNI feel that the content at the link is theirs and that they can set the rate of payment for it’s use. The newspapers represented by the NNI include:

Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, The Irish Times, Irish Daily Star, Evening Herald, The Sunday Independent, Sunday World, The Sunday Business Post, Irish Mail on Sunday, Irish Farmers Journal
Irish Daily Mail, Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Sun, Irish Sunday Mirror, The Sunday Times and the Irish Sun Sunday

The pricing for what the NNI proposed initially in December is to charge for hyperlinks connecting to its content as follows:

1 – 5 €300.00
6 – 10 €500.00
11 – 15 €700.00
16 – 25 €950.00
26 – 50 €1,350.00
50 + Negotiable

The idea is one that works purely in contrary to the way the web operates as link sharing across the web is seen as a pretty important aspect of the freedom of information. It is suggested by this blog that the NNI instead adapt a subscription model for their content providing. New developments have shifted the story somewhat as of today January 4th 2012.

digital publishing software

The NNI is now saying that they do not intend to charge where the link is for personal use (how kind!)

The updated NNI information provided January 4th states that the NNI shall require “permission” for the use of links commercially whilst no reference to the payments outlined initially are available on-line.

The legal blog previously quoted outlined tweets from the editor of the Irish Times and others at newspapers have implied the right to grant such permissions and therefore implicitly – to charge if they wish exist. Irish courts have yet to determine if this right exists. A final report from the Copyright Review Committee shall outline its opinions. Note that the NNI has submitted its opinion to the committee that use of links without permission is copyright infringement.

Let’s hope that the NNI do the right thing and do not end up charging charge for links or protect their content via “subscription and content management” if deemed central to their revenue model going forward then they must. And that the upcoming report does not agree with such submissions by the NNI.

Image thanks to the nice folks here.


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