Media Futurist Says The Future Media Maybe Seemingly Free Content

With the AP vowing to go after content scrapers and the New York Times considering pay walls for their content, the collective thought on new business models for media outlets is that everything will not be free.

Well in his report on “8 key trends and some foresights for the next 5 years,” media futurist Gerd Leonhard, says that that is not going to be the case, exactly. While content will seem free as it does right now, a shift towards paying for your content through your Internet Service Provider (or ISP), is probably the most likely solution to this revenue dilemma. Instead of subscriptions or a pay by use basis, your Time Warner plan is going to start to come with built in packages of content (i.e. sign up with Time Warner and you’ll get a free subscription to NYT online).

Collective blanket licenses that legalize and unlock legitimate access to basic content services via any digital network will emerge, and are likely to take over as the primary way of content consumption, around the world (but in Asia, first). Just like water or electricity which is readily available when moving into a new home, the basic access to content will be bundled into access to digital networks, i.e. via ISPs, operators, telecoms, portals etc. This shift is starting with music (as already done by TDC in Denmark, and Google in China), and will be quickly followed by films, TV, books and newspapers. Access may often – but in local variations – ‘feel like free’ to the user but will in fact generate 10s of Billions of $$ via blanket licensing fees…

I think that governments around the world will call for and / or support the implementation of collective content licenses that will finally legalize content usage on the Internet, similar to how governments pushed for the radio and broadcasting licenses approx. 100 years ago. Whether these blanket licenses will be voluntary or compulsory remains to be seen – in any case the only alternative is to perpetuate a severely dysfunctional telemedia ecosystem that criminalizes almost all users and stifles innovation while generating virtually zero new revenues for the creators.

Wow, could someone get this guy a mainline to Arthur Sulzberger ASAP? For more predictions about where the future is going with digital media, check out Leonhard’s full report here.