Digital Content, Paywalls, Newspapers, and the Practice of Law

Tom Jenkins of Open Text spoke at the London TechAlliance “Gearing Up For Growth” conference yesterday about digital media in Canada. He likened the current position of traditional media (TV, newspapers) to town criers at the advent of the printing press. Here’s one of his slides.

Many are predicting the end of the newspaper. Newspapers are struggling trying to find a business model they can use in the digital world. It’s not uncommon for newspapers to try to erect paywalls, which require a paid subscription or a pay per view to read their content.

But that’s not going to work. Its just too easy to get similar content elsewhere.

For example, a few days ago I saw a link to a Wall Street Journal article about the U.K. police request that Internet cafes monitor customer use and alert police to unusual activity. The WSJ required payment to read any more than the first paragraph.

My response? I googled the headline, and within seconds was reading essentially the same article elsewhere.

Makes one wonder how this will affect legal services. What will people do themselves for free that lawyers traditionally charge for?

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