10 innovative and groovy ways to save print publications

French publishers are currently lobbying for a tax on Google based on the idea “if Google indexes our headlines, they have to pay for it”. Apparently, the threat to Google is so serious that Google cofounder Eric Schmidt flew to Paris last week to lobby against such a “link tax”.

A Google tax isn’t a new idea. A few months ago Al Jazeera reported that German print publications are thinking along the same lines, although they’re even more, eh, inventive. The German print publications would like a law that would allow them to invoice you if you link to their content – even if that content isn’t behind a paywall to begin with.

The first draft, released in June, proposes wide-ranging restrictions on how individuals and organisations can link to copyrighted material if they are deemed to be using the content for “commercial purposes”.

The major print publications say they should be able to charge a licence fee for the reproduction of their material on other sites – including the headline and opening sentences that are currently deemed to be in the public domain under copyright law.

So, something is on the internet. You (as a human) find it interesting, or a bot indexes it an links to it from the search results page: here comes an invoice. And apparently, some politicians are even listening to this.

How to save print publications? Ten groovy ideas

French blogger Seb Musset  asks the very important question “why stop THERE?”. He has ten more groovy suggestions for the print publications to protect their rightful income streams from this – this internet. We translate his suggestions here:

1/ Invoice bloggers and contributors for the presence on YOUR site when you use their content for free.

2/ If the blogger links from his blog to his own text on your site (that he supplied to you for free), you should be able to charge a fine for “disloyal competition”.

3/ Install a Twitter tax: charge 6 euros minimum for every Twitter user or Facebook user who links to one of your articles.

4/ Charge a carbon tax to be invoiced to the social network user whose posts, tweets or other content you recycle in one of the many sections in the newspapers called “OMG” or “Found on the net”.

5/ Why stop at trying to inflate your subscriptions by bulk selling your subscriptions to enterprises? Why not make a law that every school child MUST get a subscription to at LEAST 3 news magazines?

6/ Why should all the money from the television and radio tax go to people on radio and television? Install solidarity between audiovisual and print media by demanding your piece of that cake.

7/ Lift a fine for every Twitter user that dares to address one of the Editorial Clergy in a too familiar tone. The proceeds will be used to organise the scuttling of unpaid interns between news orgs in a smoother way.

8/ Only “real” press organizations must be allowed to use the word ‘information’ on the internet or social networks, subject to legal enforcement.

9/ Internally, create an observatory for the press to make sure that interns copy the wires correctly.

10/ Get rid of pay models altogether and evolve towards a completely subsidized model, complemented with financing by megacorps. (Le Point + L’Express + Le Figaro receive 28,1 million euros of public funds every year, not bad, huh?)

Know more ways to save publishers?

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via Tout est politique – Le blog de Seb Musset: 10 solutions audacieuses pour sauver la presse française face à Internet.

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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