Google Explains Why Making Special Copyright Laws For Newspapers Is A Mistake

We’ve written a few times about how ridiculous the FTC’s proposals to “save journalism” are. They’re much more focused on saving newspapers, not journalism. And they seem to totally misunderstand the problem — or to believe the problem is some amorphous threat from “internet aggregators,” which is based on no actual evidence. Google has now responded to the FTC’s proposal, and, as Jeff Jarvis notes, effectively “taken the FTC to school” on the basics of journalism economics and copyright.



My favorite segment may be:


The large profit margins newspapers enjoyed in the past were built on an artificial scarcity:
Limited choice for advertisers as well as readers. With the Internet, that scarcity has been taken away
and replaced by abundance. No policy proposal will be able to restore newspaper revenues to what they
were before the emergence of online news. It is not a question of analog dollars versus digital dimes,
but rather a realistic assessment of how to make money in a world of abundant competitors and
consumer choice.

There’s also a nice dig for those who believe that paywalls are the solution (even though Google is more than willing to help publishers hang themselves with that noose). First, it notes that subscription revenue today represents only 3% of newspaper revenue, and then points out that perhaps paywalls could “raise the 3% revenue figure,” though it clearly seems to be emphasizing that we’re talking about a really minor revenue stream here.

Hopefully the FTC pays attention, but you could see them just dismissing Google as a “biased” party. The newspapers pushing these sorts of solutions are barking up the wrong tree, and hopefully the FTC realizes this, rather than providing a big crutch for the news organizations unwilling to adapt to a changing market.

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