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FTC Staff Discuss a Tax on Electronics To Support the News Business 381

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-what-I-call-top-down-management dept.
dptalia links to this piece describing a staff discussion draft from the Federal Trade Commission, writing "The FTC is concerned about the death of the 'news.' Specifically newspapers. Rather than look to how old media models can be adapted to the Internet, they instead suggest taxing consumer electronics to support a huge newspaper bailout. Additionally, they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them." Note, though, "The good news in all this is that the FTC's bureaucrats try hard to recommend little. They just discuss. And much of what the agency staff ponders are political impossibilities."
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FTC Staff Discuss a Tax on Electronics To Support the News Business

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  • by CTalkobt (81900) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:05PM (#32448060) Homepage
    If this does pass I think it would be quickly repealed over the loud howling noises as people realize it passes.

    This would essentially put the government in charge of choosing which press agencies to sponser... Dangerous precedent...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      Yeah, and who's going to report it as the bad thing it is?

      The major news media? No, they'll just take their bailout and spin the news to all goodness and light and fluffy bunnies and fuzzy puppies.

      Other outlets? No, they'll get sued to oblivion because the news media will have copyrighted the facts, so anyone else who tries to report on it will get a DMCA Smackdown.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        All of the news outlets that don't get the bailout, perhaps?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jgagnon (1663075)

          Precisely... all the sources that don't have paper products, such as the online news sources that have been steadily replacing newspapers over time.

          This would be where Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo (among many others) get to step up and be "heroes". Part of the plan? Perhaps...

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          File that under "other outlets" in my post.

          If this passes (which I doubt it will, but let's just theorize), the media who receive the bailout will simply apply the other half of the law - they'll copyright the facts of the law.

          If anyone else attempts to report on the facts of the law, the major media will have plenty of cash coming in to hire lots of sharks with legal beams (lawyers) to monitor other news media sites and swamp them with DMCA takedown notices.

          First they'll go for all competing media and drai

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > All of the news outlets that don't get the bailout, perhaps?

          You don't understand how Progressives work. Everyone with any audience will get the bailouts, online, cable, legacy networks, dead tree. Just like the banks who were smart enough to see the trap and initially said "No thanks." until they were all brought into a conference room and told "You WILL take the money."

          Once everyone is on the government teat nothing else will change for a while, as slowly the whole industry realigns to the 'new norm

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        You can't copyright facts, but thanks for playing!

        • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:27PM (#32448426)

          RTFS

          That's the other part of this proposal: that news agencies will be able to copyright the facts they report on so the blogs et al can't just take them and 'comment' on them to get their content.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          You can't today, and I doubt you ever will be able to.

          But... From the summary: " Additionally, they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them."

          Let me summarize the summary: "they suggest allowing news organizations to copyright facts"

          This conversation is based the GP's premise of "If this does pass", therefore my assumption for the purposes of the conversation was "If a law is passed to allow news organizations to copyright facts."

          Context. It's important.

        • by dptalia (804960)
          One of the suggestions in the FTC writeup is to ALLOW COPYRIGHTING OF FACTS.
    • by Qwavel (733416) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:17PM (#32449196)

      Yes, laughing at this proposal is appropriate, but there is a real problem.

      Unfortunately, I think that I am the problem.

      In spite of the fact that I understand and value the role that newspaper play, particularly in investigative journalism, I continue to increase the amount of news that I get online.

      I often visit the sites of the same newspapers that I have always trusted, but I know that the revenue they get from my online presense is much less then they got from the subscription that I have now cancelled (and its associated advertising revenue). Once they get good enough, I'll get a pad or a tablet and stop reading from paper completely.

      As well, I'm slipping into reading articles from scattered sites, probably because those scattered sites pander to my particular view of the world and don't have to uphold the journalistic standards that the newspaper did.

      To top it off, I don't believe in bail-outs, which usually don't work and are typically politically motivated anyway.

      So, I'm not sure what the solution is, but I know that there is a problem. Not much help am I.

    • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:26PM (#32449338) Homepage Journal

      This kind of bullshit is exactly why America needs to wake up and vote for people who are truly conservative. I do not mean "neocon" type conservatives who consider the Constitution an inconvenience, and certainly not "liberals" (as in the moonbat type) who consider it to be toilet paper, and I don't mean outright libertarians either; I mean people who actually read and understand the Constitution and who are grounded in common sense, and don't intend to legislate morality, prop up big business with pork legislation, not tell us what we can and can't eat, not legislating marriage (and in fact take marriage AWAY from government since interference in marriage is restricting freedom of worship as marriage is a religious construct), and certainly not tell us what we HAVE to buy (see: Obamascare, which is based on Massachusetts' failed RomneyCare), and not those who rack up insurmountable piles of deficit spending.

      Vote for people who want to preserve and protect the Constitution, that way the public good will truly be preserved for the generations to follow us. We need to stop voting based on who will protect or punish big business, but for those who consider the long term ramifications of such legislation. Vote for those who don't push for extended government micromanagement of our lives.

      We have only ourselves to think by turning it into a Red vs. Blue debate and allowing, no, demanding that government enforce those "values." Take back the country by voting for constitutionalists (regardless of party affiliation) and don't try to legislate what other people do. Want to affect change? LIVE the example; don't try to legislate it.

      Otherwise, the result will be exactly this kind of unconstitutional copyrighting of facts bullshit, and the perpetual "mickey mouse" and "sony bono" copyright laws. It really is a s;ippery slope because people see an opportunity to become a career politician than a true leader. The making of a good leader is a good servant. Constitutionally, our elected leaders report to us. In practice, politicians see it the other way and we need to send a very clear message to these stupid fucks in office that WE are in control and THEY are in place to SERVE.

  • Let them Die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by airwedge1 (1768544) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:07PM (#32448090)
    Why are we always so concerned with keeping companies in business. We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented. This is absurd, if a company can no longer sell something, sell something else, or die off.
    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:09PM (#32448112)
      What are you, some kind of capitalist?
      • Re:Let them Die (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Karganeth (1017580) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:14PM (#32448200)
        It really has nothing to do with capitalism. Even in communism they would remove companies and technologies that are obsolete. It's just stupid to think that newspapers have a right to exist and make a profit.
    • Re:Let them Die (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jgagnon (1663075) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:24PM (#32448376)

      Unfortunately, this sort of thing is all out of proportion because of the state of the economy and the number of unemployed people already out there. In better times, much of this would be ignored.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)

        Somehow I don't remember the DMCA or the Copyright Term Extension Act being passed during a recession.

    • Re:Let them Die (Score:5, Interesting)

      by schon (31600) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:27PM (#32448422)

      We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented.

      Yes you did. [wikipedia.org]

      • Re:Let them Die (Score:4, Informative)

        by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@gmail . c om> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:48PM (#32448774) Homepage Journal

        LOL! If this is true, Wow!

        "In the United States, the state of Vermont passed a similar flurry of Red Flag Laws in 1894. The most infamous of the Red Flag Laws was enacted in Pennsylvania circa 1896, when Quaker legislators unanimously passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature, which would require all motorists piloting their "horseless carriages", upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to (1) immediately stop the vehicle, (2) "immediately and as rapidly as possible... disassemble the automobile," and (3) "conceal the various components out of sight, behind nearby bushes" until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified.[1] The bill did not pass, as Pennsylvania's governor used an executive veto.

        Dear Lord, let's pacify the livestock by disassembling the car. It's a shame that retarded politics was around even back then...the more things change...the well, you know the rest.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MozeeToby (1163751)

        Choice quote:

        The most infamous of the Red Flag Laws was enacted in Pennsylvania circa 1896, when Quaker legislators unanimously passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature, which would require all motorists piloting their "horseless carriages", upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to (1) immediately stop the vehicle, (2) "immediately and as rapidly as possible... disassemble the automobile," and (3) "conceal the various components out of sight, behind nearby bushes" until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified.

        Wait... what did they think was going to happen? The horses were going to freak out upon seeing a carriage with no horse in front of it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Why are we always so concerned with keeping companies in business. We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented. This is absurd, if a company can no longer sell something, sell something else, or die off.

      While normally I agree with the idea of making businesses survive and fail on their own I'm a bit more hesitant to agree to letting the news industry fail. I wouldn't want to get all my information from blogs, word of mouth or press releases from the government. Remember most of the stories posted here are from a news source of some sort or another. If the news agencies failed It would leave a huge information vacuum that the government could fill as it wished. And lets not even think about the quality of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by baxissimo (135512)
        There is a market for news, so the "news industry" is not going to fail. What will die will be ways of monetizing the news that don't make sense any more. The more you prop up news organizations using bad revenue models, the harder you make it for new viable plans to compete.
      • Re:Let them Die (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:47PM (#32448754) Journal

        If the news agencies failed It would leave a huge information vacuum that the government could fill as it wished.

        And you don't think those same news agencies will be beholden to the government when the government is the one keeping them in business?

    • The wagon wheel people were at least smart enough to adapt to the changing industry. They tried to leapfrog automobiles all together and developed rocket engines. Sadly it marked a messy end to the leisurely carriage ride. However, it did kick start the space race.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:08PM (#32448102)

    unless congress passes a law i don't see this surviving a lawsuit. and with the clout of the electronics industry i doubt a law will pass allowing this

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054)

      Never the less, we are already perilously close to "making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them."

      The first news organization to publish a story often has a monopoly on that story until another journalist (no bloggers need apply) gets there and files a report (usually after the fact).

      For that interval, the story is for all intents and purposes proprietary. Doesn't matter what Joe Citizen saw (unreliable eyewitness), or what Polly Pajama Blogger posts (unprofessional). The s

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:09PM (#32448116) Homepage

    Go ahead, "copyright" your investigated information. Good luck suing the hundreds of thousands of blogs and websites that will still link to your info. And besides, if they provide a link to the news company's website as a way to cite a source (just like I do with my own webpage when I post about content I have read elsewhere), what's the problem? You still get credit, you still get the traffic.

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Sorry, forgot to add the ::sarcasm:: qualifier. Yes, I have a problem with this. No, I don't believe it would ever actually pass.

    • by garcia (6573) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#32448480) Homepage

      Go ahead, "copyright" your investigated information.

      Oh fuck them and their investigated information. Asshole journalists steal the research done by bloggers, like myself, all the fucking time. While bloggers happily link to the information they are using for their work, journalists never do and cite how it's just not done in their industry.

      While I am happy to research, request, and even sometimes pay to make data public which may not have been before, I do expect that the journos will cite that work I did when they use my materials when they write their stories--just like I do for them. Using other people's work without citation is called plagiarism anywhere else in the world and I really and honestly believe that the entire journalism field needs to go back to college and learn how to do their jobs again. Perhaps at that point the industry will turn around for them.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        I don't live anywhere near the area your site covers, but it looks like a great source! If I lived around there, I would definitely utilize your information (and make sure to give credit, of course:-))

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Good luck suing the hundreds of thousands of blogs and websites that will still link to your info

      Some people [slashdot.org] have no problem suing thousands of internet users to protect a dying business model.

  • Bail Me Out Please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:10PM (#32448136)
    I am utterly blown away at hoe often the government is willing to step in and save failing business models. Car companies refusing to evolve, media companies failing to evolve, and more. Last time I checked, we live in a capitalist society where companies that succeed, in one way or another, are rewarded and companies that fail, for whatever reason, are supposed to go out of business. I can understand and be empathetic towards companies that have their business destroyed because of the actions of another, such as fishermen having their livelihoods wiped out because of BP's oil leak. Those businesses deserve some intervention to help them get through the rough time that is no fault of their own. Companies that fail to innovate, however, and end up watching their balance sheets shift more and more downwards? Nah. Sorry. You tried and failed. You don't have a right to be in business, just because. You have to work hard and succeed, just like the rest of us.

    Failing businesses should be allowed to fail. Someone will figure out a successful business model and will fill the void or a market that no longer needs to exist (hello buggy whips) will fade into the history books.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Em Emalb (452530)

      hoe often

      Words of wisdom, my brotha, words of wisdom.

    • by Shagg (99693)

      Last time I checked, we live in a capitalist society

      This has nothing to do with capitalism. The media companies give extremely large campaign contributions to the politicians. The politician is not going to receive another check during the next election cycle if the company no longer exists. That's why the government is willing to save their failing business models.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:11PM (#32448146)

    It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

    Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

    • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:28PM (#32448452)

      It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

      Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

      Far too many people are willing to ignore good advice when they don't like the messenger, or the people associated with the advice. There is also another reason people ignore good advice that scares me even more. It's when the advice is ignored because they cannot accept the implications of what that would mean.

      I guess the latter reason also scares me because I often find myself making the same mistake. It's easy and comforting.

      As with Ayn Rand, it's like any other book, it takes an effort to distill the insightful portions from the author's other opinions.

    • Libertarian alert! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by openfrog (897716)

      It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

      Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

      Regardless of the merit of this case, don't you think it's just a bit early to come with this magic market libertarian stuff as we are still in the midst of a major financial crisis caused by massive deregulation?

      I am not bothered by the fact that you exist; I am seriously concerned, however, that there was one person to mod you insightful...

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:09PM (#32449106) Journal

        Regardless of the merit of this case, don't you think it's just a bit early to come with this magic market libertarian stuff as we are still in the midst of a major financial crisis caused by massive deregulation?

        Has it occurred to you that government interventions in the marketplace helped to create the imbalances that contributed to the financial crisis? Government keeps interest rates artificially low, thus negating any real incentive to save, then wonders why we have high debt and low savings rate. Government favors large corporations at the expense of small ones and then wonders why large players dominate the financial/telecommunications/medical/etc industries.

        Ever heard of regulatory capture [wikipedia.org]? Ever wonder why established business lobbies in favor of regulations that make it harder for upstarts to enter the market?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Shotgun (30919)

        You obviously have not read "Atlas Shrugged", or tried to understand the regulatory environment created around the banking system. There was plenty of regulation, and the book cited did a pretty good job of explaining how it broke. Alan Greenspan claims to be a true believer of the book, but that makes him either an idiot, liar, or thief.

        Let me explain myself. In "Atlas Shrugged", the government played a role in the downfall of the country, but that role was mostly as a pawn for the true villains of the

        • The repeal of Glass-Stegall, the lowering of capital ratios needed to maintain leverage, the deliberate understaffing of the SEC as seen as an unnecessary vehicle, the maintenance of fed interest rates near zero during the last decade, these are all notions of deregulation. If we were standing back and letting the banks support their own ratings boards and believing that mortgage brokers could police themselves and would be natually trustworthy, how is that an argument against government intervention in th
    • No, she wasn't. (Score:2, Interesting)

      ...constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

      Back in the 1800s, our economy would oscillate between booms and busts. Depressions were the norm during the dips in the business cycle. Sure there were corresponding booms, but the crashes would wipe out most of the wealth created. Businesses wanted government intervention to flatten out the business cycle and make things more predictable.

      Completely free markets do not work. They eventually break down and we end up with a crash and an aristocracy. Start reading 19th century American business history (Roc

  • by aztektum (170569) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:12PM (#32448154)

    Dear Washington,

    You're doing it wrong.

    Thanks,
    Everyone

    Seriously what the hell? Stop giving our money to greedy corporations. Want us to buy a house? Spend more on crap? Buy new cars? HOW CAN WE DO THAT WHEN YOU KEEP TAKING OUR $?

    OH wait. You'll just take it and give it to corps for free.

    Now, I am not a tax hater. I am fine with taxes for things like emergency services, libraries, roads, schools. The difference is those services provide for the public good. Forcing me to hand money over to your buddies at the "too big to fails" is bullshit. You crooked fucks.

  • by Michael_gr (1066324) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:12PM (#32448164)
    I mean, it's like totally unfair that PC manufacturers pulled the rug from under the typewriter business. I propose a tax on... let's see... yes! deodorants! and, uhhm, pipe wrenches! to save the typewriter business. And the monk scribes that used to copy books before that horrid man Gutenberg took their jobs away, they deserve some recompense. Let's tax... exotic pets.
    • I mean, it's like totally unfair that PC manufacturers pulled the rug from under the typewriter business. I propose a tax on... let's see... yes! deodorants! and, uhhm, pipe wrenches! to save the typewriter business. And the monk scribes that used to copy books before that horrid man Gutenberg took their jobs away, they deserve some recompense. Let's tax... exotic pets.

      You laugh, but we may have seen such lawsuits if the new industries that were forming were not born of the industries that were replaced.

      Con

  • What. The. Fuck. Seriously, if you can't keep up with today's technology to stay in business, you have no business being in business. Let the media giants die if they refuse to change. Somebody more capable will come along and take their market share.
  • New automobile tax proposed to revive buggy whip industry..

    Innovate or die.

  • Alot of Electronics are sold with out sales tax so is this just a back door tax to make up for that?

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:22PM (#32448330)

    Oh, this is where I laugh. I'm a socially conscious, progressive kind of guy. I believe in humanitarian capitalism, not social darwinism. But in a case like this, they're proposing a tax to support a business model that cannot support itself in light of other players able to make a living providing the same kinds of services.

    I do support operating businesses with a social benefit at a deficit. Public transit does not usually support itself entirely from the fares collected but receives subsidies from the taxpayers because it's of social benefit to all. After all, how much money does the local fire department collect from you to provide emergency services? There's no fees, it's all direct 100% taxpayer support. But we all agree that this is something we need. Same with public schools.

    What I find especially amusing is the same free market evangelists who would huff and puff about how awful the fire department is would probably also line up behind the newspaper bailout, especially if they happen to be columnists. Socialism for the goose but show the door to the gander.

    I do agree that competition is a good thing and a major problem with government-sponsored monopolies is that there's no competition, no choice for the customer if they don't like what they're getting. But there's not a whole lot of competition amongst "private" industry, either! Smaller competitors get gobbled up until we get too-big-to-fail companies every bit as broken and inefficient as the communist state-owned industries we were warned about in our economics textbooks. Oh, it's bad when they do it but ok when our guys are doing it? Riiiight.

    I like what the brits have tone with the BBC. I could get behind that kind of government support. I don't want to see Ruport Murdoch sucking at the public teat while putting out his bullshit.

    • What I find especially amusing is the same free market evangelists who would huff and puff about how awful the fire department is would probably also line up behind the newspaper bailout, especially if they happen to be columnists. Socialism for the goose but show the door to the gander.

      When you get to define the terms and groups, you can imagine all sorts of asinine reactions to fit your worldview.

    • Seconded. I'd mod you up if I could. If this does pass we'll essentially be nationalizing the newspapers. Didn't we decide that that was a bad idea with the phone company? Of course, given how that turned out I'm not certain if that's a condemnation or an endorsement.

      We could certainly do worse than the BBC though and we likely would.

    • Actually, is it the business model, or the fact that the content has become so piss poor no one cares anymore? Televised news is the same. Does *anyone* ask a followup question anymore?

      Typical exchange:

      Reporter: What do you think of state bill 31415?

      Politician: The people who supported that bill are mutant, baby eating Nazis financially backed by pedophile terrorists from the fascistic hegemony of Earth 7B.

      Reporter: (nods head)

      Politician: Of course, I have yet to actually read the bill, but I have it on goo

  • by nebaz (453974) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:22PM (#32448336)

    Newspapers were subsidized by the Federal government until about 1840 or so, due to the founder's desire to make sure there were plenty of options for people to be well informed.
    Link here [suite101.com].

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      'Subsidies' are one thing. Most subsidies noted at that link were along the lines of paying topublish legal notices, and of course discounts from the Postal Service, which is probably trying to bail on those right now.

      But taxing anything to directly support newspaper publishers is offensive. Offensive. And clearly (IMHO) a violation of the First Amendment. The opportunities for abuse are spectacularly apparent. This needs to fail immediately.

      Now, if they really want to tax something to prop up newspaper

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by toooskies (1810002)
      I never knew that. They don't want to take your money because the "adapt your business model or die" mentality. It's that anything on the Internet is disseminated only based on popularity and appeal, as opposed to basis in fact and research. If bloggers, etc. could demonstrate a commitment to fact and research that proper news media should have, then I'd be all for the papers dying. But when those papers die, so will all the reliable information. Because I'm not getting reliable information from TV new
  • Postponing the death of an industry with a huge influx of cash is not just illogical, it's such a stupid idea that only Washington could come up with it. For one, it does not fix the problem. People will still choose electronic media over paper. There is also something to be said for making the country's print media dependant upon the federal government. Print an article blasting the current administration? There goes your funding...
  • Nail in the Coffin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by number17 (952777) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:28PM (#32448434)
    Does that mean I can blog about a sports game and claim copyright over the score?? Goodbye sports section.
  • Who the hell do they work for over there at the FTC? The American people or the newspaper industry?

  • The free market is talking to us right now about the death of newspapers and old media... much in the way it spoke about the lack of innovation in the U.S. auto industry. We love free markets and malign other countries that do not subscribe to it.

    Yet here we are, looking to tax people to bail old media out. We can't have our cake and eat it too.

    If the gummint wants to talk about new taxes, why not put it toward something like education or hunger?

    Why can't the workers in the old media jobs learn new skills

  • by dotfile (536191)
    I don't see a problem with brainstorming and discussing all possible options, no matter how bad they may eventually turn out to be. It's an important step in the decision-making process. You list all the ideas, good and bad, then start weeding out the obvious bad ones, then debating the apparently not-too-bad ones until you have it narrowed down to a few good options - then pick the best option. IMHO that best, last remaining option would be "let the newspapers try to figure out how to survive, and if th
  • have they considered this bit of law??

    "Congress shall make no law ... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    this fails on these grounds.

    • "Congress shall make no law ... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

      They already say that an onerous tax is not an abridgement of freedom. Just as long as the law doesn't specifically say you can't do something, our failure of a Supreme Court will be just fine with it.

  • No way (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:30PM (#32448498) Homepage
    The thought of that cunt Murdoch getting money from me when I used none of his services and despise his existence would be far too much.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:31PM (#32448506) Journal

    Put a tax on lying.

    • I think they should put a tax on "editorials". It seems to me that 99% of news media is analyst blathering and 1% actual, factual, reporting.

  • This combined with the "emergency powers" over the internet that are being given to the Department of Homeland Security mean that most of the media in this country can conceivably be taken over by the government. If they don't like what you have to say they aren't going to allow you to say it.
  • Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by MrTripps (1306469)
    Here is a link to the text of the proposal: http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/news/jun15/docs/new-staff-discussion.pdf [ftc.gov]
    • by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:59PM (#32448976)
      Here's one clip from the first proposal:

      Some stakeholders have proposed amending the Copyright Act to specifically recognize hot news protection. Advocates argue "the copyright act allows parasitic aggregators to 'free ride' on others' substantial journalistic investments," by protecting only expression and not the underlying facts, which are often gathered at great expense...

      Hot news advocates are divided, however, on whether federal law should be revised to encourage state law development of hot news doctrine or to provide uniform, statutory federal hot news protection... The likely effects of a more vigorous hot news doctrine are controversial. For example, on eworkshop participant noted that New York's hot news doctrine was important to the AP's efforts to protect its intellectual property, but recognized that any "federalization" of the doctrine would need to be very carefully drafted to avoid unintended costs... Others also have argued that expanded IP protections for the news would be too costly. News organizations and writers, including print, broadcast, op-ed writers, and other commentators, routinely borrow from each other. One panelist suggested that "[m]uch of what is done by newspapers with each other is actually problematic under existing hot news doctrine."


      The paper does include a number of possible direct revenue sources from the government as possibilities, such as tax breaks or increasing punding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, it also includes the following:

      Representative Waxman noted in remarks to the FTC workshop on December 2, 2009, that those advocating for public funding "need to articulate the scope of such support, in terms of the activities to be supported and the dollars required. They need to respond to the concern that government support of journalism would lead to government control of content. And they need to explain the source of revenues."

      Most of the paper goes on like this, presenting different sides of each proposal. Which is to say that unlike what the commentator in the OP states, this isn't so much the FTC dictating that the government deliberately save the news industry in any one particular way, but is more a roundtable discussion about different ways that it might occur. If you disagree with what's discussed, you might want to leave your Congressman a call.
  • We should be pointing out again that people have rarely bought a newspaper because they wanted the paper. If the point of this is to subsidize printing newspapers, then it's not a news-related bill at all. It's a bill to subsidize the killing of trees.

    This might be more acceptable if it specifically subsidized non-print news distribution, e.g. via the Internet. That might solve the actual problem, which is that the newspapers are being killed by electronic news distribution.

    There is plenty of precedent f

  • by ErikZ (55491) *

    Can we call it Socialism now?

  • How about we create a tax on video games to support the failing board game industry? Or 20% tax on fuel injectors to subsidize the failing buggy whip market? Give me a friggin break people. It was NEVER the government's responsibility to support failing market initiatives, or outdated technology. The need creates the market. If the market isn't buying it, then the need has moved elsewhere. Imagine this: We let the newspapers die. There are no longer major news websites associated with those papers t
  • by flink (18449) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:52PM (#32448854)

    Newspapers aren't, for the most part, loosing money. They're becoming less profitable. Historically, newspapers have enjoyed fantastically high profit margins. Due to a falloff in revenue from shrinking circulation and less interest in print classifieds, those margins have shrunk to being merely moderate.

    Back in the days when newspapers were run by private companies or wealthy families most papers probably could have weathered these leaner times, these days most major papers are held by big public media companies. These companies can't tolerate a drop in profits, so they are firing reporters and closing beuros in order to maintain those margins.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by value_added (719364)

      Wow. An informed Slashdot reader. You dare post something meaningful in a discussion about newspapers in the midst of a mob of teenagers (along with a few right-wing idealogues) chanting "Death to Print Journalism"? ;-)

      You're right, of course, about the underlying problem. You did, however, neglect to throw in the bit about how most all newspapers are finding it impossible to reconcile their viability with the pitiful revenues from online advertising. That problem has no easy solution.

      There are success

  • We desperately need an independent, publicly funded television network. News reporting has turned to complete and utter rubbish and it's time to put a stop to it. I say television because, let's face it, the number of people smart enough to read newspapers in this country is dwindling fast. TV gets much more exposure to a wider audience. This would benefit everyone and not just news--entertainment as well, which is suffering immensely and dumbing down the populous. I really do revel in the thought of a

  • by thisissilly (676875) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:57PM (#32448942)
    I would much rather see America turn to public funding for public domain news, instead of trying to let businesses copyright facts. One of the best news organizations [wikipedia.org] in the world is funding by a TV license fee.
  • News like this tends to rile people up about "the government." Let's take a step back and realize that these problems don't exist because of government, but because of undemocratic governments. Do you think people in FTC were just sitting around and said, "hey, let's introduce a new tax and give it to newspapers!" Obviously not. Giant "news" corporations are lobbying for it. It's more their government than yours. That's why it's being considered.

    Absurd taxes (and other bailouts and laws in general) like the

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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