Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Information Wants To Be Free -- Or Does It?

Dave Hendricks writes:

Since Gutenberg's introduction of movable type in the 1450s, information has yearned to be free. The Licensing Act of 1662, followed by the Statute of Anne in 1710 , solidified the rights of authors. The U.S. Constitution codified the legal basis of copyright in 1787. As long as the printed word and art have been monetized, their producers have been protected from free distribution and compensated for their work.
Today, that model is under attack by the transformational technology of the Internet and its ability to simultaneously distribute content. But the same technology that threatens copyrights provides the most powerful and pervasive distribution network ever designed, benefiting authors by potentially exposing their work more than ever before.

This shift in distribution has forced content companies to devise entirely new business models to maintain profitability. It has also spawned whole new categories, like MP3 players and digital readers. For the most part, the music and book publishing business have managed to adjust, and the artists in these categories are still profitably producing music and books. When will newspapers catch up?

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