Right or Wrong?

They say that information has to be free.  They’re right.

In this article, the Wall Street Journal discusses a welcome change (in my mind, at least) for some of the country’s top law firms– the recession is forcing them to move to “flat-fee” billing.  Of course, you don’t know the details, unless you subscribe to WSJ Online.  I don’t.  But wait… click on this link, then click the first search item you see.  Presto– you just subscribed to the WSJ Online.  Actually, you just used Google’s subscription to the WSJ.

As some readers may know, the newspaper industry is cratering.  WSJ Online, owned by Rupert Murdock, is one of the few newspapers which still makes some money using online subscriptions.  Yet, they (along with any mainstream online publication) are powerless to tell Google not to crawl their subscription content with search bots, because they can’t afford to have the information in those articles locked out of searches done by you and me on the search engine which controls over 60% of the worldwide search market.  Google, for whatever reason (and there may be a good technical one) has not blocked our ability to access subscription content using their APIs.  In other words, the suckers subscribe, while the frugal click for a few more seconds and get it free.

Is this right?  Honestly, I don’t know.  If you think you do, please subscribe to this blog and make a comment!  In any case, this situation isn’t sustainable.  The WSJ incurs massive expenses and goes to great effort to gather content, and it cannot afford to keep giving away everything online to folks like me.  I do, in fact, believe they should be paid, and if I had the time to read enough and believed it was worth it to subscribe to WSJ Online for business purposes, I would.  Perhaps the answer is the Kindle (or something like it).  I’m sure time will tell…

P.S.  Just thought of something.  Is it possible that Google & WSJ Online have a secret deal, where WSJ does get paid just a little when I do this … by Google?  Specifically, if I click on a link to the right after pulling up the “cheat search”, part of the revenue from that click goes to WSJ?  It could happen…

P.S.S. If you still can’t figure out how to do this, put a comment in and I’ll add a “step 1,2,3” section.

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