More sustainable Internet

How to make the Internet more sustainable? Currently most of the popular Internet services are making losses. Highly subsidised Gmail accounts with plenty of storage bring very little profit to Google due to minimal user ad exposure. Popular Facebook makes staggering losses year by year and even being the most popular website today, still hasn’t worked out even how to surface relevant ads to users, let alone make any profit. YouTube would be brought to its knees if not a stream of money from its parent Google heavily subsidising the bandwith and paying cash royalties for every illegally uploaded video. Twitter hasn’t even seen a bleak concept of how it would eventually become profitable. Even free status of news on the Internet is being questioned these days as incomes from ads cannot cover the vast costs of putting all the news in hands of public domain… And there’s still piracy ever rising its ugly head… Sometimes it seems like Internet popularity has risen on the backs of filantropists and criminals, but either way, even if that shouldn’t hold truth, it’s far from being sustainable.

Why not impose extra charges on bandwith that would be paid on top of Internet subscription and any site specific subscriptions each individual website might or might not charge? 50p per Gigabyte charge would be simple to understand, easy to measure. As Internet is global phenomenon money raised would need to be deposited in a global rights organisation, which would operate on a very simple basis of making sure that end-user traffic is being represented in royalties paid by providers and paid back only to registered, genuine content providers. Let’s say you run a popular blog, making 500GB of traffic a month. As an owner of such blog, you’d register yourself certifing that you take responsibility for the content you publish and that would make you elligible to 25 pound of royalties being paid to your account every month. Traffic which would be unaccounted by registered content providers (ie. torrents with illegal downloads) would be charged equally so it doesn’t matter how you download your content (legally or not), you’d still pay the same amount of money for the traffic incurred. Unaccounted traffic however wouldn’t be claimed back as obviously no one would like to come out claiming responsibility for the illegal downloads.

Money which hasn’t been attributed to a traffic directed from registered content providers would claimed back in some propoprtions by film industry, artists, songwriters, bookwriters, software companies, maybe just invested back in some sort of creative industry. Copyright wouldn’t cease to exist, but breaking it would be a bit less severe. Internet would be less croweded with payment systems, micropayments, subscriptions and intrusive advertising as many websites could thrive, profit and continue to invest in a sustainable way just on the back of their popularity being the automatic business model.

I realise this is just a stab at the topic. Many details would need clarifying, but don’t hesitate to ask questions as I would be happy to explain how to close any loopholes, as well as hear about weak points / risks of the above proposal.