At some point pro-advertising people have to argue for the proposition that advertisers have an inalienable right to try to bother people with their commercial messages, and I'm willing to engage that point because I think it is wrong. I don't think they have that right -- quite the opposite in fact.
I don't think advertisers have an inalienable right to anything -- if this battle turns legal, it won't be advertisers suing end users or adblock developers.
But would advertisers sue publishers or content owners if the size and nature of the audience was fundamentally misrepresented? Oh, yeah -- that already happens in the offline media world.
That threat, if it becomes more commonplace, puts pressure on publishers to make sure those ads get seen. And that's where the trouble for end users could occur.
(It's also one reason Google's pay-per-click ad revolution shook things up so much: As an advertiser, you don't care if the ad was seen 10 times or 10 million times as long as you're getting the clickthrough rate you want and ONLY paying for that clickthrough rate. As someone else in the thread said: People who use Adblock don't click on ads, so the pay-per-click model actually helps perpetuate the current state of things by taking pressure off of publishers to deliver raw impression numbers.)
Slashdot's anti-ad rhetoric aside, content creators or rights holders have a right to monetize if they want to -- just as content consumers have a right to bypass that content. Everyone has a choice and everyone has other options.
Right now, the easiest path for those who want to skip ads is also the best-of-both-worlds path: You can consume the content you want *and* avoid the ads. Eventually, some (maybe a few, maybe many) content creators will simply not serve content unless they have confirmation that their monetization vehicle was served as well. Some sites will die because it turns out there are other options -- and many will thrive because people need what they've got.
If it *does* become a legal battleground, it'll be less about the macro and more about the micro. No one gives a fuck if there's one less or one more eyeball on some half-baked 9gag clone serving up commoditized CPM advertising. But a social-media ad that's relevant to maybe 100 people in the whole country? Advertisers -- and their attorneys -- damned well care if they're losing significant percentages on those hyper-targeted buys, which often carry a premium.
He's right -- for community weeklies and even some very small dailies, legal ads are lifeblood.
Much less so for mid-sized-and-larger dailies.
You want to see an incumbent business model act like a pack of pissed-off wolverines? Watch the small-paper lobby go to town when a state legislature suggests that putting legal notices online might -- might! -- be more efficient.
... the risk just isn't worth it.
The risk isn't worth it to you.
And that's OK -- but that doesn't mean it's a blanket risk assessment for everyone. Failure is always an option, whether you're holding down a desk and a w-2 paycheck or hunting and killing your own food.
More accurately: A large part of America stubbornly refuses to trust government solutions.
I don't think an innate trust of corporations is what you see nearly as much as an innate distrust of government not to screw stuff up.
Not advocating for that position or against it; just sayin' that's how it looks out here in the heartland.
An example of why licensing matters: ProPublica is another new investigative journalism operation, funded as a nonprofit and dedicated to doing deep investigative journalism at a time when many daily newspapers can no longer afford it. They make their content free (as in beer) to newspapers and online sites.
Sounds great, right? The problem is, their Creative Commons license does not allow for editing of the stories. On a day-to-day basis, that means newspapers and other content users can't localize the piece directly -- they'd have to write a sidebar. What's more troubling is that the license also means local editors can't legally alter the story if they find factual errors or want to add additional facts.
That's why licensing matters. It'll be interesting to see the approach HuffPo takes.