Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adequate & Fair Compensation for Bloggers

Edward Champion reported this afternoon the monthly blog subscription service Amazon sells for its Kindle hasn’t been paying these bloggers a reasonable cut of the revenue. In fact, it appears that in some cases Amazon did not even ask permission from the various writers of these blogs. These are legitimate concerns. For one, a person writing n the internet holds a copyright over their work. That someone could make money off my writing without my knowledge is frankly unconscionable.

Champion’s report reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister this afternoon during lunch, where the topic of a blog-consolidation site was briefly broached. Called Bloglines, this site allows one to subscribe to their usual blogs and then presents the posts from all sorts of blogs in one place. Therefore, one doesn’t have to actually visit a dozen (or more) blogs with the hope of getting any fresh content; the merely need to log onto Bloglines.

However, the easiest way to earn revenue on a blog is through advertising, and a service like Bloglines removes these posts from their natural home, thus no hit is recorded and the producers of content are not compensated for their material. And I would imagine that Bloglines has their own advertising, siphoning money away from producers and into the hands of the aggregators. (Disclaimer: this could also be the case with RSS feeds, something with which I am woefully inexperienced.)

Perhaps on the face, this doesn’t seem as egregious to you as Amazon’s Kindle issue, but these sorts of issues are going to be of great concern as a larger and larger slice of our economy exists in cyberspace. The democratization of production is one of the best things about the internet, but this may prevent some from ever taking the plunge due to legitimate fears. Aggregators may be popular and useful, but there has to be a way for producers to receive at least a fair portion of the advertising revenue a site like Bloglines takes in on advertising run with their content.

1 comment:

Allyn said...

You've hit on one of the major problems facing bloggers today — with Google Ads and other ways of monetizing a blog, bloggers can earn some income from the activity. But at the same time, technological advances like RSS readers make it impossible to monentize a blog because the content is disconnected from its intended format and location.

I read blogs almost exclusively through RSS feeds. (Opera has a really nice RSS reader built in.) The reason is convenience. I don't need to spend an hour surfing from blog to blog to see if they've been updated; all I need to do is open a window, and I see whether or not someone I read has written anything new.

It's the same reason why LiveJournal and other social networking sites are so popular; they makes keeping up with people incredibly easy. The content is out there; it will come to you without you having to go get it.

Do I know that people are making money with my content? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it, short of turning off my own RSS feed? No. There's no easy solution to content scraping. When I've found it, I've sent invoices to websites for republishing my content, but nothing's ever come of that. So, yes, it's frustrating, but it's also incredibly difficult to do anything about.