People who sell information online could be facing a bleak future. At least that’s what you might think if you had a peek at everyone’s prices and compared them with the fees they charged a year or two ago.

For instance, two years ago a typical ebook was $97, now it’s more like $17. And before you know it, such titles are being snapped up on Ebay for $2 or less. DVDs or videos that used to be $297 can now be seen via YouTube for zilch. Information providers are going through the same period of woes that the music industry went through a few years back.

So, does the future of information selling look bleak? No, not if you take into account views being expressed at the OECD forum on the future of the Internet. The idea is that everyone who has Internet access pays their service provider an extra $3 a year. That would then provide a “fund” for content providers to be paid from.

In other words all information – including commercial items like books, movies, and so on – would be available with a single click. Anything you like would be paid for within your annual broadband fees. This is an interesting idea and one which many people already use without realising it. Your daily newspaper may cost you 45p or 65p in the UK, but that’s the money you pay the newsagent for selling it to you. The millions of pounds it costs to run a newspaper can’t be funded by the cover charge. Instead, advertisers fund the newspaper and when you buy an advertised product, a proportion of what you pay to the company is put into a “media buying” budget which then pays for the newspapers.

So, the model is not new or revolutionary. But by extending the idea to everything sold online it will mean that you will no longer need a shopping cart, or the ability to accept credit cards. PayPal would die a death and “swapping” sites would become the norm. Plus you would need to become an approved and registered supplier of information so that you could claim your share of the “content fund”. Oh goodness – do I sense “jobs for the boys” in Government departments round the world…?

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