Profiting from free, online content
There isn't a compelling business argument today that would suggest that giving away our content is a good idea.(more)
What tangible benefit does the New York Times get in return for being a world news library to us? It's neat to be revered by all as a repository of information, but without a visible associated profit, I can certainly understand why it could be rejected by higher-ups. In the interests of simplifying things, I'm going to make a gross generalization of this and call it: "How do I make money while giving everything away for free?":
I'll award a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to the person who emails me a screenshot of their Google toolbar having blocked the most pop-up ads. I ask only one thing: take the screenshot against the NYTimes.com site(more)
products sold through the Amazon Recommends service earn a 4% referral fee for Classic plans and 5% for Tiered plans.(more)
Entering your ZIP Code will provide you with a number of benefits, including articles, links, and attorney listings that are relevant for your state or locality.(more)
If you like TorrentFlux and you use it, please help support it. Thanks. Or buy something on my Wish List.(more)
Advanced Search allows you to generate millions of customized search reports from our database of 7.5 million credits.(more)
The various angles described above (examples at best, themselves) can scale to any sort of content repository, be it an image gallery or a newspaper. As a blogger, I'd be thrilled to provide a Q&A service on my blog; the default price would be free, but if someone wants to paypal me for answer, that option will be available. Some blog comments are more valuable than the post they're attached to, an unusual side effect that I'm not sure was anticipated. Selling idle computational power has the most dramatic possible potential, as the only business successfully harnessing the idle processing power of the world is spamming.
Martin Nisenholtz, are you listening? I miss seeing the NYT clean, easy-to-read page layout whenever I search for news on current (or past) events. I miss the simple links, the easy-to-look-at URLs. You have so many possible ways to make money off of that archive without hiding its content, and by doing so, you allow the entire industry to hold back political, economical, and social research.
Please reconsider closing your archives by fees; for every person who pays a fee, a thousand are turned away, unable to afford it, and a growing number each day find their way in through partner links, BugMeNot, and so on. Some people will develop whatever tools they can to circumvent locks you place on content, now that they've seen what free content is like; if you choose a business model that offers content for free, then those same people will build tools with your content.
Edit: Added quotes, fixed Nesenholtz typo (no disrespect intended).
Edit: Nick Douglas noted an inconsistency in the donation paragraph. Revised the paragraph in several places.