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Mygazines.com faces legal troubles

Mygazines.com faces legal troubles

The extremely well-made but legally dodgy Mygazines.com is facing legal pressure from publishers.

We've seen what happens when you launch a music-sharing service without the permission of copyright holders, and similarly for movies. With this climate in mind, would you launch a user-driven magazine sharing service?

That's exactly what one company has done with the Mygazines.com website – a Flash-driven collection of popular magazines scanned and submitted by its users. All the big names are available – everything from FHM and GQ to Harvard Business Review and Tactical Weapons Magazine. The interface is pretty swish, too: providing you've got a Flash-enabled browser, each magazine is presented in a two-page spread just like the real thing – complete with page-turning animations. Bookmarks are available to jump straight to the articles that interest you, and considering that the magazines are provided by volunteers the quality is pretty darn good – at least as readable as any official eMagazine service I've used.

The catch? According to CNet's Stephanie Condon, the copyright holders for the magazines featured are less than impressed – and are actively seeking to have the site shut down. Ordinarily, getting such a site canned wouldn't be a problem – but there's a fly in the ointment: Mygazines.com, obviously aware that it might meet with such hostility, is hosted by the free-and-easy PRQ hosting service in Sweden created by the founders of the infamous Pirate Bay.

Although the reaction of the publishing houses involved is understandable – it's never fun seeing your hard work being distributed without recompense – I truly believe that, given a little tender loving care, we could be looking at the future of magazine distribution. Although magazines are sold in stores in the same way as other copyright materials such as films and music, they have a unique feature: the selling price never covers the printing and distribution costs, much less the salaries of those involved in its production. Instead, the cover price exists almost exclusively to give a sense of value to the product – the running costs are recouped from advertising.

It's this fact – something almost unique to magazines and newspapers – that may yet save Mygazines.com: the adverts are reproduced exactly as they appeared in the original printed version. Instead of offering their advertisers an audience of 30,000 who actually put their hands in their pockets and buy the magazine from their local newsagents, the publishers can now offer circulation figures in the hundreds of thousands – and growing. The best part is, it's at no cost to themselves. If circulation figures can be obtained from Mygazines.com in such a way as to be verified and added to the figures for the printed versions, it could be the Renaissance that the printed media industry has been waiting for. After all, scanning through a magazine on my PC while I'm waiting for a program to compile is nice, but I'll always be buying the real thing for reading in other locations.

Whether Mygazines.com and the publishing industry will ever come to an agreement based on the above theory remains to be seen – and given the past performance of the music and film industries, I'm not exactly hopeful.

What's your take: should the publishers be happy at the boost in readership – and eyeballs on adverts – offered at no cost to themselves, or is Mygazines.com clearly guilty of intellectual property misappropriation? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
AcidJiles 18th August 2008, 14:52 Quote
what this shows again is that traditional media providers are not providing what they produce in the ways that consumers want.
diasam 18th August 2008, 15:00 Quote
I personally don't read too many magazines, but I feel that there are too many advertisements in that thing. In fact, almost half of the pages you will see are ads, and the amount of this useless content makes it feel like it really should be free in the place.

From my point of view, magazines would get more attention by readers if it was free (i.e. more people will read it). The advertisements will then be shown to more people. Therefore, the amount of money that magazine companies ask from other companies who want to advertise will naturally increase. This will still cover the costs of production and such.
Timmy_the_tortoise 18th August 2008, 15:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcidJiles
what this shows again is that traditional media providers are not providing what they produce in the ways that consumers want.

i.e. Free.
TGImages 18th August 2008, 15:13 Quote
Print media still has some advantages. It's a bit more difficult to take Mygazines with you on a porcelain cruise.
johnnyboy700 18th August 2008, 15:28 Quote
Nice idea but I agree that print media still has a place, although I wasn't thinking of doing so whilst cutting off a length.
Furymouse 18th August 2008, 17:43 Quote
Proof

Now theres no excuse for magazines in the bathroom ;)
DXR_13KE 18th August 2008, 17:54 Quote
if only it had an offline version....
Tulatin 18th August 2008, 19:39 Quote
I gave this service a test drive by reading an issue of Maximum PC - while the magazine was about as meh as I remember it being, the navigation, and intuitive nature of the software made it enjoyable. Enjoyable enough that I'd rather scroll through digital copies than a print copy.
Mr T 18th August 2008, 20:42 Quote
"The service is not available. Please try again later." doh!
r4tch3t 18th August 2008, 22:17 Quote
I would love it if they had New Scientist on there. (had a quick look but couldn't find it) I can't afford the subscription due to studentitis and miss the days when it was delivered to my door.
cpemma 18th August 2008, 23:16 Quote
Quote:
...it could be the Renaissance that the printed media industry has been waiting for...
You're missing the point. For Mygazines to produce an online version of someone else's magazine is no different to me hosting a carbon copy of the Bit-Tech site. Were Bit-Tech management bothered when someone actually did this? You betcha!

PC-Pro and a few others have online sites that mirror a large fraction of the magazine content plus extra news - paid for by online advertising. I'd like to see more magazines doing this, but there are established alternatives if I want to read a camera or amplifier review. Market forces will determine who runs the online magazines, but they'll have to produce their own content to survive - there's no long-term future in thieving.
Romirez 19th August 2008, 00:17 Quote
The site itself is really nice, easy to use, if a little slow. While obviously the legality does come into it, the print companies should try working with it rather than getting it shut down. Even if they adopted a small subscription fee it'd be worth it; something like £5-10/month coupled with the increased advertising costs. Everyone would be a winner, and if both the site and magazines worked together the content would only improve. Guess that's pointless speculation though, the rampant stupidity pervading todays media would never allow for some sensible negotiation.
sotu1 19th August 2008, 07:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TGImages
Print media still has some advantages. It's a bit more difficult to take Mygazines with you on a porcelain cruise.

hehe, love how you call the sh*tter!
konsta 19th August 2008, 09:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r4tch3t
I would love it if they had New Scientist on there. (had a quick look but couldn't find it) I can't afford the subscription due to studentitis and miss the days when it was delivered to my door.

r4tch3t, you know that you can get it via Athens (if you're a UK student, that is)
r4tch3t 19th August 2008, 09:44 Quote
New Zealand Student unfortunately.
Good to know anyway.
reflux 20th August 2008, 11:57 Quote
Quote:
"I truly believe that, given a little tender loving care, we could be looking at the future of magazine distribution."

Check out The Overclocker, a professional magazine for PC enthusiasts that's being distributed for free online:

http://theoverclocker.com/
UrbanMarine 17th October 2008, 15:40 Quote
Mygazines is not closed :(

"Dear valued members, visitors and publishers,

Due to monetary reasons and the state of the global economy, we unfortunately must close mygazines.com. We simply ran out of funds to support the daily operations.

We thank you for your patronage.

If you are a publisher interested in understanding more about our model and vision for the future of the publishing industry going forward, or to discuss our Business to Business model opportunities, please email us at mygazines@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
The Mygazines Team"
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