“Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.’

This quote by University of Chicago economist, Gary Becker and U.S. Appeals Court Judge, Richard Posner, has set the stage for a an argument that will likely never see a positive outcome in any courtroom in America.

The issue is not the ownership of content manufactured by journalists and recast across thousands of sites on the web. The issue is about the inability of newspapers to grasp the new ideology that has permeated the web and penetrated its users into the belief that “free” is the new “paid subscription”, even for the likes of journalistic powerhouses like the New York Times.

The evidence is in and the jury is out … how odd, however, that circulation among the printed media that is distributed as “free” or “comp” is either discounted or not counted at all and considered to be readership “not engaged” enough to be counted. Yet we jump at the chance of counting any free traffic on a site as evidence of its worth.

Metrics have changed …. evolved to accommodate a new communications pipeline that we have not as yet come to fully understand. or manage. Nor are we holding it to the standards we hold high in traditional media.

The real battleground for print media is the agency, where education is the weapon. The trade associations that make up the “old” media have not done a good job of convincing the digitally focused marketers that as the old media dissipates so will the digital counterparts as content generation dries up, becoming less important for the sake of “fast media”.

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