Paid content

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Paid Content is the non-free electronic commerce of digital content and information goods in digital media. Examples of digital media are, for example, the Internet, the World Wide Web or mobile media (cellphones, PDA). Features of digital contents are their usability, applicability, exchangeability and recoverability.

Paid Content differ from Paid Services in the way that digital content can be passed on and be used by different individuals. Digital services can be characterized as a right which can be exercised, but not passed on without it being lost. The difference can be made clear by considering the differences between an MP3 music file and online games. The MP3 file can often be duplicated, passed on and exchanged - without capacity boundaries or losses suffered by an individual. These features of MP3 files as an example of digital content are one of the main reasons for the huge revenue collapses in the music and media industry since the existence of the Internet. Online games, however, as an example of digital services, is only a right to participate when the purchased input is offered and traded. This right can be traded and passed on, but, contrary to MP3 files, the vendor forfeits the benefit of this right at the moment it is passed on.

The term Paid Content has become the centre of a debate on the future of Print Media [1]. As Newspaper and magazine sales decline [2], and online readership increases, the media industry has been forced to re-evaluate their business models to offset the fall in paper sales with the new market in online readers. As discussed above this has proved incredibly hard to do and, much like in the music industry much content is currently being given away for free, whether legally or illegally. It is clear that while the ability to share information and comment has been vastly improved [3], the industry's ability to obtain revenues from this shared information has been put to the test.

Rupert Murdoch's proposed method of Micropayments [4] has been largely lambasted by thinkers on the subject. In his seminal blog post [5] on the questions raised by this shift, Clay Shirky discusses the many models being put forward, concluding that "No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need". There is, however, some evidence of opportunity for revenue already - Custom publishing is one area proven to be thriving in the online media world [6]. The music industry has had some success in creating new markets of legal downloading where lower costs and accessibility have led to success, and some suggest there are parallels between the major victims of digitalisation - the music industry and the media [7].

The increased accessibility and interactivity of online journalism has also created new opportunity in the guise of crowdsourcing, enabling people to get investigative journalists working on stories that they themselves have suggested and funded. [8]


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