By Siobhan O’Leary
German newspaper die Tageszeitung (die TAZ for short) is testing out a new online social micro payment model started by Swede Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay. To this point, die TAZ has financed its online edition with ads, but now readers can voluntarily pay for content using a service called Flattr.
How does it work? Each user who sets up an account on Flattr (a name referring both to the idea of flattering someone and to a flat-rate payment model) pays a monthly fee — minimum €2 — that he or she is willing to contribute for online content. When the user finds content he or she likes on any website with Flattr buttons, he or she simply clicks the button next to that content to “reward” the content provider.
At the end of the month, the user’s monthly fee is split equally among the copyright holders of the content that he or she has “flattered”. Of course, for the system to work, there will need to be enough content creators who are willing to include Flattr buttons on their websites and enough users willing to set up a Flattr account (the service is currently in beta and an invite is required to set up an account).
See the Flattr homepage for a video explaining how the system works: http://flattr.com/