To Magazine Publishers, Sharing Is Not Caring

Trade Group Threatens to Sue Over Napster-like Website

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The Magazine Publishers of America almost sounded like the trade group for Hollywood or record labels last week. "We believe [this] is a blatant copyright infringement of our members' titles," the association fumed to our friends at Folio, which reported on an unauthorized new site for scanning, uploading and sharing magazines.
Mygazine is your gazine: Site allows people to read through page-by-page issue reproductions.
Mygazine is your gazine: Site allows people to read through page-by-page issue reproductions.

Already the site,, was letting people peruse page-by-page reproductions of new issues from titles including Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Blender, Harper's Bazaar, Smart Money, Men's Journal, Maxim, GQ and Macworld.

"We are aggressively pursuing the matter in conjunction with our members' attorneys," the magazine group said, "and expect that legal action will commence shortly."

While the lawyers work this out, though, can we admit this whole process is little more than kabuki? Magazines aren't movies or music, Mygazines is no BitTorrent and Nina Link doesn't have to be Dan Glickman.

Magazines make most of their money from advertising, after all, not newsstand sales or subscription fees. Nor do lush, tactile magazines translate as well to screens or speakers as movies and music do. It's hard to imagine that sites like Mygazines could hurt circulation; reading a reproduction of a magazine page on a computer screen is just not that great an experience. This site, as a matter of fact, makes us want to buy some print editions.

Copyright litigation no doubt eventually will send Mygazines the way of prior stabs at magazine sharing: into oblivion. But in the meantime, could the industry look it over for ideas worth stealing? Mygazines offers to find your contacts who are also using the site, for example -- like a Facebook organized around magazine consumption.

If the alienating anti-piracy jihads from movie and music publishers have taught us anything, publishers should appreciate consumers' interest -- and set about finding ways to meet it.
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