Famous Last Words: A Business Proposal -- WIPCO
A great tragedy of modern business was to allow the World Wide Web to become advertising-drive rather than information-driven. Users should pay for the incredibly valuable information and entertainment it provides.
I receive The Wall Street Journal in hard copy daily. As a result, I am eligible to get the publication online for $39 a year. Included in that subscription is access to the Dow Jones-Reuters-Factiva archive—a monumental collection of data going back 10 years from a thousand media sources in 118 countries and 22 languages. Type in a subject, and Factiva gives you dozens of articles—the publications in which they appeared, the date, the headline, the first few lines of the story and the number of words. Click on the article, and it comes up on your computer screen. At the same time, your credit card automatically is hit for $3.95.
However, a skilled researcher can use Factiva (and Lexis-Nexis, for that matter) simply as wiring diagrams by going directly to the Web site of the publication listed and downloading the article for free. Magazine archives that I have looted include Business Week, Business 2.0, CNN/Money, E-Commerce Times, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The Industry Standard, Red Herring, Salon.com, SmartMoney, Wired and ZD Net.
As a researcher, I love all this free information and the incredible convenience of not having to leave my home. I also love reading seven newspapers a day on the Internet for free.
As an author, I am outraged that all this reportage is free for the swiping and that these superb writers and their publications are being royally screwed out of royalties.
Quite simply, these articles are not worth $3 to $4 each. For that kind of dough, a researcher can take the free Factiva/Lexis-Nexis wiring diagram to the library, retrieve the back issues and make photocopies. To a researcher, each article—or a daily visit to The New York Times—might be worth 5 cents to 25 cents in terms of value received and time saved. But it would be totally impractical to bill a researcher 5 cents or 25 cents. Or would it?