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Finally, a business the Guardian approves of...

Why journalism needs paywalls | Tim Luckhurst | Comment is free |

All my life I have longed for the day when the truth about business would be published in the Guardian. As it happens (no doubt to the horror of some readers) I agree with Tim Luckhurst's basic point. Intellectual property is as valuable and worthy of protection as any other and libertarians should be champions of all property rights. Yes, it's nice to get content for nothing, just as it would be great if Rolex left watches around to pick up for free, but please don't be surprised if supply dries up when creators are not paid. That kind of naivety should be reserved for the Left.

I am not remotely surprised that the media are looking for ways to earn money from online content. I hope they find a good (or preferably several good) business models, so we get some competition. Free content was always going to be a fad that passed as "online" content drove old models out of business. Free online content has of course accelerated that process, cannibalising the print media business.

If you were starting a news business today, the last thing you would do is write a business plan that involved logging and pulping trees for paper, printing on it and distributing it in vans. You would start your business online. Libertarians above all should realise that you would get no investment to do so (even from your Mum) unless your plan explained how you were going to make a profit.

The self-importance of the media is hilarious though. Rather than saying (as is the truth) that "if my boss can't earn any money he will close this rag and I won't have a job," Luckhurst pontificates about the importance to democracy of the news media;

It is time to admit that giving away value is not remotely democratic. In fact it undermines processes that keep representative democracy healthy.

"Giving away value" is not "undemocratic", but plain stupid - and not just in the media biz. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and the capitalist a return on his capital, whatever the business in question.

And when oh when can the poor, benighted taxpayers stop giving away more than half the value of their work, Mr Luckhurst? That's a business model in need of revision too, but I don't expect the Guardian to bleat about it any day soon.


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Trooper Thompson

Giving away value is in no way anti-democratic, and is in fact what many businesses do.

What does Murdoch want? To charge of his content? Fine, we can take it or leave it. I don't buy the Sun, the Times, don't have Sky and can live without his internet sites. But I suspect there is more to it than that, along the lines of a power grab over the internet using copyright protection, inter alia, as a cover, with the state acting as bully-boy policeman and the big corporations choking off the competition.

As a common blogger, I sometimes feel like a blood-sucking tick on the belly of a mighty beast - the hated MSM. Be that as it may, I'd rather see the old media teeter and collapse than Murdoch and company create a domination over the internet such as exists in publishing and broadcasting.

I saw a graph recently that showed the decline in profits for record companies. It was put together with a graph showing the rise in profits of music artists. People are still spending money on music, but they're doing it in different ways. Sad for the record companies, indeed, but these companies claim that they need copyright protection for the poor little artists who they nurture and groom. Not so. It is technology that record companies must blame.

Let journalism become a vocation again.


The Sun's response to the threat of electronic media distribution.


But if the only writing in the world (or art, or music) was done as a spare time hobby, what would the overall quality be?

Well there is a lot of open sourse software that is free to use and often of really high quality. It is also value given away free.

Sometimes that is as a taster for a commercial product, sometimes the product eventually goes commercial and sometimes it is done just because the ones who made it saw a need or just felt they could do better or were being ripped off.

Giving value/content/stuff away free is not anti democratic tho.


Oh, a headache problem that Andrew Scott said.


Andrew, I wrote in the context of business where there are no free lunches. That's not to say amateurs do nothing of value. But if the only writing in the world (or art, or music) was done as a spare time hobby, what would the overall quality be?

If you find value in The Last Ditch I am pleased. I enjoy writing it as a hobby (or maybe a hobby horse). Most of my posts, however, are comments on news reports or commentary from professional journalists working for highly capitalised organisations with enormous resources. We need them and, if their old business model is failing, they need a new one. For them to give away value would be insane.

Andrew Scott

""Giving away value" is not "undemocratic", but plain stupid"

Dear Tom, is there anything of value in your blog? If you think there is, why are you giving it away? If you think there is not, why write it, and why should anyone read it?

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