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Philadelphia may tax bloggers

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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A lot of bloggers in Philadelphia are up in arms over that city's latest proposal to bring into money. It would charge Internet bloggers that sell advertising on their sites a privilege fee and business tax. A lot of cities and states are having a tough time balancing their budgets, so they're going after any revenue they can get. Sree Sreenivasan is professor of Digital Media at Colombia Journalism School. He's with us live from New York this morning. Hi professor.

SREE SREENIVASAN: Hello.

CHIOTAKIS: Is there even a way to enforce this on bloggers?

SREENIVASAN: It's going to be almost impossible to enforce this because trying to track these folks down and then getting them to pay for this is going to be hard. Let's keep in mind that somewhere between 95 and 99 percent of bloggers don't make money on what they do, so...

CHIOTAKIS: They just do it to get their opinions out there, right?

SREENIVASAN: They do that, they love what they do, and some of them make some money. But this is just a sign of the times. Municipalities need money and they're going to go where they can try to find some.

CHIOTAKIS: Are we going to see any more of this you think, professor? I know we've been hearing about an Internet tax for a few months now. Is this just a way to get revenue?

SREENIVASAN: Well, we've been talking about Internet taxes I think for years. And I think that you will see versions of this coming out from all over the country if there's any sign that there is actually money to be got from these bloggers. If not, if Philadelphia is not successful, I don't think it's going to happen elsewhere. But governments are going to try.

CHIOTAKIS: So it could be a barometer, then, what happens in Philly. What does this say, professor, about the state of blogs and their legitimacy?

SREENIVASAN: I think that it's nice in some ways to say that governments are thinking that there are all these people making money on there. But blogs have been around for a long time, relatively speaking, and I think it's a sign that they think there are enough people making money. And there are some people making money, but not everybody.

CHIOTAKIS: Professor Sree Sreenivasan at Colombia Journalism School in New York. Professor, thanks.

SREENIVASAN: Thank you.

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