Posted on September 12, 2009
A macro approach to micropayments
Lots of folks were talking about micropayments for journalistic content this week (example).
One thing I’ve mulled over is a daily fee that’s quite small (say, 50 cents? Maybe even less). I think this is easier to accept than a fee per article; most articles are so short, and really, you might only read the first two paragraphs.
An entrance fee — say, to a park — lets you use almost everything in the park, for as long as you stay. Some special activities (boat rentals, campsites) might require an additional fee.
I’m imagining a kind of token ID, sort of like a gift certificate code. (These must be secure, because every e-commerce site uses them.) The difference would be that you could use the same code on any computer, logging on and off, for the specified period of time. (The code would expire after 24 hours, for example.)
The code could be in use by only one user at a time.
I like the idea that I could hand my code over to a friend when I had finished with it for the day. So what? It’s like pass-along readership.
I suppose the bean-counters would want to chain the code to a user ID, so no one else can free-ride on my code that I paid for. But I think that’s a wrongheaded approach. Bad enough you’re making people pay for something they expect to get for free.
By additionally tying it to a user ID, you would require people to surrender their privacy rights. I can tell you here and now, I won’t do it.
So let me be a good neighbor and share my copy with someone else. When I read a newspaper at breakfast in a diner, I always leave it behind for someone else to read.