What excites me about the web, and I’m sure many others is its openness and ease of access. Something that I’ve mentioned a number of times in my posts, is how the internet is an instrument for freedom of expression and overcome the hindrance of time and space. But what happens when this ‘free’ and ‘open’ side of the Internet isn’t so free and open?
As a student, I think that free online content stipulates many advantages. Open Education Resources (OER) such as Khan Academy and Wikiversity are being used by students like myself to support self study and enhance learning and also reduces the cost of learning. (Wiley et al)
An online report from YouGov provided interesting facts on free online content and the younger generation (Hern 2014):
Those within this generation are main drivers of consumer sovereignty, they’re used to accessing what they want, when they want. Great examples of this and an advantage of free online content are Spotify and YouTube. Both sites, which tend to be supported by ads are symbolic of modern day culture.They personify what the web is all about as exposure to wider communities is formed with no restrictions.
However, producers of these materials may disagree. On 30th March, Jay –Z, along with a number of other A-List celebrities including Rihanna and Madonna launched ‘Tidal’, a music streaming platform that allows audiences to access new musical content…but at a cost. The main focus of the platform is to “restore the value of music in the eyes (or ears) of listeners”(Dredge 2015), which means making users pay for the content and steering them away from free providers that have an affect on the royalties they receive such as Spotify.
Moreover, the newspaper industry is one that has acted against free online content, with many requiring a subscription. With advert revenues rapidly falling, many newspaper companies feel forced to charge for online content to also make up for the loss in sales of the physical version due to impact of free content (Gordon 2013).
Whilst I agree that producers should at least receive some form of compensation for the content they put on the web, I think there are other alternatives to adding a fee. For example, producers can require users to register in order to view content as this data is valuable to companies and can allow them to personalise content.
A. Hern, 2014. Half of all British children believe online content should be free: study Available: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/27/half-of-all-british-children-believe-online-content-should-be-free-study [Accessed 30th April 2015]
O.Gordon, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24759239 [Accessed 30th April 2015]
Wiley et al, Available here: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535639 [Accessed 30th April 2015]
S. Dredge, 2015 , Tidal: 10 things you need to know, Available here: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/apr/05/tidal-10-things-you-need-to-know-jay-z-madonna-music-streaming [Accessed 30th April 2015]
#TIDALforALL YouTube video, Available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYYGdcLbFkw&spfreload=10 [Accessed 30th April 2015]