Maybe you've been giving Google's
The usual suspects
Hello, Mygazines.com. On that site, you'll find digital copies of entire print magazines, with titles ranging from Playboy
It is brand-name content presented in an environment that advertisers must hate (think TiVo
And here's the kicker: The site's terms of service simply ask that you actually bought a copy of the magazine you're uploading, not that you own the rights in any way. Now, I think that our current copyright laws and their application tend to be a bit heavy-handed, but even so I can't justify this project under "fair use." My crystal ball foreshadows massive legal actions from the likes of Mr. Hefner, Time Warner
Compare and contrast to YouTube, where large sections of the user terms deal with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or how to file an infringement notice and protest such notices. That user policy is nearly twice as long as that of Mygazines, and covers a lot of ground that the upstart leaves untouched. Google may be fighting Viacom
YouTube has partnered up with many content owners, and plenty of the copyrighted clips you see there nowadays come with official blessings. Google will share revenues with content owners, making YouTube more of a business opportunity than a piracy threat. In a letter to the British Press Gazette, an anonymous spokesman dismisses comparisons to the file-sharing days of Napster
As obvious and unavoidable as the legal avalanche is, that's not what I see as the ultimate Mygazines killer. The site has ties to the seemingly indestructible Pirate Bay file-sharing service and the site is registered to a "John Smith" with an address in tiny Caribbean island Anguilla. The law will have a hard time laying a finger on it, as egregious as the infractions may be.
No, the death blow will eventually come from the publishing industry itself. Magazines like Cosmo, Wired, and Playboy always looked like prime online properties, dishing out their advice, entertainment, and other well-written and popular articles through this huge series of tubes. But here we are, well into the digital age, and most of them simply haven't made the transition yet.
If Mygazines teaches Time anything, it would be how to present the print magazine in a tasty online form, easy to navigate and easy to use. Copy that model and then improve on it, inject a bit of revenue-generating advertising, and see if your readers prefer the official version with corporate backing or some fly-by-night rip-off where everything is free but nothing is guaranteed. Now let's see which publisher might be the first to get a clue so we can invest in it.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns Google stock, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure reads that magazine for the articles, honest.