Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Web Publishers Organize to Demand Ad Revenues From Sites Using Their Material

What we are saying is maybe there is a middle ground If people are taking full copies of your content—why don't you take a revenue share?

Jim Pitkow, CEO of Attributor Corporation

In Jessica E. Vascellaro, "Startup Tries to Rally Publishers With Ad-Sharing Proposal," Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2009

Attributor has technology that identifies copies of its clients' articles and videos that websites take from other sites. Sometimes the sites use full copies, which is a copyright violation. WHen it finds such content, Attributor sends the sites a note requesting that that they the content off the site. Attributor now has a new approach: It wants to allow sites to keep the content up but to share the advertising revenue they generate with the copyright holder. It has organized a group of publishers, called the Fair Syndication Coalition, to go to the advertising networks that serve ads on pages that are full copies of copyrighted material and demand some of the money that the ad networks would send to the sites carrying the material.

This approach is by no means straightforward. It's by no means clear that the ad networks will want to share the money without first getting permission from the websites. Moreover, many sites deal with more than one advertising network. It might be difficult to notify the relevant party of a copyright violation.

A larger question, which the article doesn't discuss, is whether the Fair Syndication Coalition will eventually go beyond wanting cash for full article to wanting cash for use of part of the article-- an activity called scraping. That approach will be sure to raise much controversy among websites.

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