Thursday, 30 August 2012

summative or headline roundup

Some cabinet officials in Germany’s ruling coalition want to levy a fee from those aggregator sites like Drudge Report or Yahoo! News and other services that supposedly profit unduly by leveraging the reporting of other agencies, baiting readers to their own mastheads then trickling off like Plinko bearings to the primary sources. This idea is only as of now a suggestion, but framers have been working on legislation since 2009 and similar plans have already been discussed in the States—with the Drudge tax, and has the support of some German publishing-houses (Verlag) and much hand-wringing and vocal protests on the opposing side. Lawmakers want these asymmetric earners (through front-page ads) to share profits with the makers of their content, the journalists. It seems like a fair proposition, at first, glance but the reasoning, I think, quickly folds. Aggregators don’t intercept potential advertising revenue (although I suppose, for example, if a reader first encountered some tempting resort ad in Pago Pago, the reader probably wouldn’t click on it a second time when mirrored on the newspaper’s web site) but feed and drive visitor traffic, and surely, in turn revenue.

If news- aggregators with high-visibility are targeted for skimming too much off the top, what’s to prevent this tariff from creeping to any link or the adjudging, rating, following or otherwise liking or disliking of social-networking sites? This proposal is like a shadowy, non-codified once-and-future ACTA or Son of SOPA, meant to de-vitalize the internet because the entertainment industry feels it’s turnover is being infringed upon. And there would of course be consequences, like the spectrum of what’s newsworthy shrinking and the feeder-services might be only willing to do business, find what’s fit to print, with its partners and affiliates.