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Are marginal costs free for digital content?

March 9, 2010

Are marginal costs for Internet content really free? If not, what’s wrong with Chris Anderson’s arguments?


Remarkable content has to jump the subscription fence to viralize itself

In discussing Chris Anderson’s views of a new digital free market, it occurred to me that we have to look at marginal costs from a totally different perspective.

Briefly, we accept newspaper copies in our doorways, —nobody expects them in our bedrooms. By the same token, a delivery to the web is similar in nature, it is a place where the reader may pick up his news.

Then, who cares what goes on within the reader’s bedroom?

Though we do care about him paying for his copy, —like he used to, less distribution costs—, and to respect newspapers’ copyrights.

Now, in regards to marginal costs, they should be viewed as the cost of producing an additional “article”, —not of an additional “edition”—, which is a better reflection of the true nature of the online publishing business, raising and distancing the price from free.

But, with all the free media, readers are confused.

We must continue to educate them out of their confusion and into a better ethic’s ethos. Free content harms an author of a song, book, scientific research or the journalist behind a news article. If you don’t believe me, ask any songwriter.

Then we must take care of our content.

The enforcement of copyright protections and subscriptions is needed to counter the ease in which digital content can be acquired and reproduced. One “lonely” free publication is enough to allow the whole wide world to read it, and I need not mention how easy it is to copy digital content.

With these thoughts in mind, I feel we should set the subscription fence to separate trusted content from the rest. Some of the remarkable content should jump out of the fence to viralize itself, in order to grow site traffic.

Even with AP and the other news agencies continuing to publish their articles free to readers, all trusted and quality journalism has no alternative but to find home within the subscription fence.

Highly engaging blogs, as well as, breaking news, exclusives and all news with a high marketing value should be brought out into the open, or free, to viralize as many readers as possible.

What do you think?

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