achurch asks: "Why are people so unwilling to pay for online content? I've been wondering about this for a while, but a comment in an older article about ring tones (along the lines of 'it's stupid to pay $0.076 for one') provoked my curiosity. Surely, for someone who can afford the money for a cell phone, a mere fraction of a dollar, especially for something you only do a few times ever, is nothing to be concerned about--or is it? If nothing else, the content providers have to recoup operating costs; if you appreciate the content, why are you so averse to letting them see a cent (yen, pfennig) of your money?" Sometimes it's not as simple a matter as assigning a price and paying for it. Just how should one charge for information, especially when the worth of such information is subjective?
"For the record, I don't approve of the RIAA/MPAA/etc. money-grubbing, but even if all content in and of itself suddenly became free (and I won't get into that argument), content is meaningless in a vacuum--there has to be a way to get that content to people, and that costs money, whether it's money to run the printing press, burn discs, or send data. Somebody's got to pay for that, or it just won't happen. What do you find so wrong about sharing part of that cost--and what would you suggest as an alternative?"
The problem with this stems from the fact that not everyone assigns the same value to content. Let's say Joe finds a piece of info on the Internet and he's willing to pay $10 for it, Jack finds that same piece of info but only thinks it is worth $2, and Jill finds the information not useful at all. Now if the information provider sets the value of that piece of information at $5, he's lost 2 customers, not one. Content providers need to find their way around this problem if they want to start reaping monetary rewards. Micropayments may be the answer, but even in that camp there are still more questions than answers (for one, a good International micropayment system needs to be in place). Why do you think people are so unwilling to pay for content (without all of the "information wants to be free" arguments, please).