More than a year ago the PaperofRecord historic newspaper database stopped offering subscriptions and made the service free. At the time Bob Huggins, one of the founders, wrote that "it will always be free." Didn't seem like a very viable business model to me -- the owner would need deep pockets. At the time, March 2007, I speculated this might be Google - Did Google Gobble Paper of Record?
In a 9 July 2008 comment in response to a posting on the Public Domain Blog on Bob Huggins (assuming the posting is legitimate) clarifies the situation:
Just to clear up a few factual matters and to make you aware of the world to come. Firstly, PaperofRecord.com is a free site. Our founding entity Cold North Wind Inc was the first company in the world to digitize an entire newspapers collection in The Toronto Star. The Star is ranked in the top twenty newspapers in the world topping put at 700,000 circulation. At our peak we digitized over 20 million newspaper pages.
Secondly, PaperofRecord.com partnered our content with Google in 2006 to bring you a vast collection of newspapers that will span the planet in multiple languages throughout the past 500 years. This product will appear through the summer of 2008. We are very pleased to leave our pioneering newspaper digitization legacy in the stewardship of Google, and believe strongly that they are the perfect partner for the endeavour.
Cold North Wind Inc
As I wrote in March 2007, Google getting more heavily into newspaper morgues is exciting for genealogy. If you've found information of interest in your family history search in digitized versions of rare books in Google Books, or Microsoft's Live Search Books (RIP) you'll appreciate the potential. Local papers are the paper of record for tens of thousands of communities. In them you find not only births, marriages and deaths recorded but a host of community happenings, scholarships, school graduations, sporting events, business openings and closings, military matters, club meetings, social notes and the whole minutiae of daily life which can help bring an ancestor to life, if only you can find the item on him or her.