Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary...more
Very rough analogy: Before there was central water, people dug wells and paid for delivery equipment to provde them with clean water; each habitation its own system. Centralized water eliminated the need, and well diggers and equipment providers largely disappeared. People still pay to access water, just via other means.
News organizations need to divorce what we want from the physical encasements that no longer are quite so essential (tho' the net-deprived might disagree). They and we seem to believe that the end of the need for paper is the end of the need for news. It isn't.
Similarly, we think of the necessary costs of Internet provision to consist of the cost of the pipes, the delivery mechanism. An analysis of the actual pipe costs would help us understand why it is that pipemakers are so happy to be in this business. Perhaps some of that profit could be applied to subsidize use.
Not as in giving the New York Times a basic content emolument for existing, but maybe more as in a micropayment method by which, when users choose to look at a story in the Times, a tiny sliver of funds goes to the Times. Not directly out of the pocket of the individual user, but out of a common fund, generated from the pipemakers' profits.
That is, end users fund the pipes and contribute to content costs, but content providers earn their keep by justifying their existence. Links are free and the more you are linked to, the greater the chance of getting those micropayments -- $.0000000000007 or so, nothing huge - but it will add up.
Such a means of common, shared costs of patronage might seem silly, or full of difficulties and obvious problems, but it is surely less so than invoking antiquated and misguided law to "bar linking."