Is it payback time for the free culture?

By Alex Klaushofer.
Signs of a growing backlash against the journalism-for-free culture come from – yes, you’ve guessed it – the States.

Like many others who have been supplying the Huffington Post with free material, Visual Art Source is disaffected with the translation of their goodwill into the $315 million that the sale of the HuffPo’s to AOL has made its founders. The publishing company is calling on the HuffPo’s other unpaid writers to join them in a strike until their demands for payment for all contributors are met.

News of the sale has inspired much comment about the HuffPo’s business model, which has been described by Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times as a ‘galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates’. Adrianna Huffington responded to accusations of exploitation in an interview in the Media Guardian with a blithe: ‘We’re hosting people who express their ideas and if they want to write, fine, and if they don’t, fine.’

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the New York Times is to start charging for content soon, using a model close to that of the Financial Times.

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