Lots of Fee Ideas for Media Online

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

Five months ago, a group of media executives including Steven Brill seemed to have the field to itself when it said it was building a system for newspapers to charge readers for access online. Now, that group appears have a lot of company, like the News Corporation, led by Rupert Murdoch, and the technology giants Google, Microsoft and I.B.M., whose interest was first reported this week.

But publishing executives and analysts caution against concluding that this proves there is a robust competition to develop such systems, or even that newspapers will rush to join any of the projects. The contributions of Google and some others are little more than a set of ideas, written up at the request of the Newspaper Association of America, which inadvertently made them public on its Web site.

The News Corporation has a track record, thanks to its ownership of The Wall Street Journal, which has one of the largest paid news Web sites, but industry executives say that no other large publisher has signed on to use its system. Payment processing software like PayPal and Google Checkout could be adapted to meet publishers needs, but were not intended for them. More…