Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Who are you and what do you do?

iCopyright the service, like copyright itself, is often a hard thing to explain to people. You would think it would be easier to explain to publishers, the owners of content, than it is to explain to the average user of content. That is not always the case. We often find ourselves explaining our purpose and value proposition to both users and content owners. In that spirit, we are posting herein who we are, where we came from, and what we do. We are also making a firm statement about what we believe.


iCopyright, Inc. is the leader in copyright licensing and content services. A U.S. company based in the Seattle, Washington area, iCopyright provides an intelligent copyright system for digital content. iCopyright helps publishers and independent creators protect, promote, distribute and monetize their content—from news and editorial articles, to blogs and independent creative works. iCopyright also helps business professionals instantly secure the rights to use and share content while maintaining copyright compliance. iCopyright is used by thousands of global news organizations, trade publications and newspapers, such as Reuters, Associated Press, Investor’s Business Daily and The Boston Globe, to sell reprints and grant permissions.

iCopyright’s technology provides customers with a variety of options to use an article or photograph for their own personal or commercial use. Available options include forwarding copies by email, printing, posting on web pages, and republishing the article in a print publication.

iCopyright also markets Clip&Copy, the online news alert and press clipping service that pushes iCopyright-tagged content to subscribers daily. Clip&Copy is an extension of the award-winning iCopyright content licensing service, serving as a hyper distribution tool that helps publishers present their content to a new, significantly larger audience. This helps publishers drive new traffic to their websites, generate more revenue, and attract new readers and subscribers. Clip&Copy users can select topics of interest and have those topics sent to them daily, weekly or monthly. The topics can be posted to the user's website or saved in the user's personal "Reading Room" allowing them to be accessed whenever needed.

iCopyright, named to convey Intelligent Copyright, was founded in 1998 by Michael O'Donnell and has become the world's first automated copyright licensing system for digital content. O'Donnell had previously worked with publishers and helped them migrate their content from the printed page to the web. The one question he was constantly asked was, "how will you communicate and protect our copyrights?" If the articles are for commercial purposes, then payment to the publishers is required. These articles would also have to include publisher attribution, publisher logos, and a link back to the original websites. The publishers that O'Donnell worked with wanted and needed assurances that their copyrights would be honored.

In 1997, O'Donnell came up with the original idea of an automated copyright licensing system to tag articles so that a user could purchase a license within 30 seconds. Some licenses would be free, others would require a fee, and educational discounts would be available. Inspired by the ubiquitous copyright symbol and what it had come to stand for, O'Donnell developed the iCopyright symbol and trademarked it in 30 countries. This symbol appears on Internet article sites and, when clicked, directs the user to the copyright information. This includes information about who owns the copyright and what one can and can not do with the article. It also transacts a license to use the article.

In 1998, the pilot was developed out of Design Intelligence and in 1999 the first version of the iCopyright site was launched. The LA Times became the first to use the service on the 2 million pages of current and archived content that they published (which averaged about 300 articles a day at the time). Since its debut in 1998, iCopyright has been the innovation leader, inventing advertiser-supported permissions, enterprise site-licensing via the web, live chat support for Internet users on copyright issues, and 24-hour quick prints. The company has filed seven patents in the field of automated permissions and copyright licensing.

iCopyright has also emerged as the market leader. More online publications use iCopyright to license their content - and more online users use iCopyright to acquire permissions - than any other system. The company has tagged over 100,000,000 articles, works with close to 2,000 publications and processes as many as 5,000 instant licenses per day. The company hopes to soon increase that number to 100,000 licensing transactions per day.

iCopyright has been honored by EContent Magazine in 2007 as one of the top 100 Companies that matter most in the Digital Content Industry and is endorsed by SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) who has awarded the company two CODiE Awards.

There are four basic types of licenses available for iCopyright tagged articles: Instant Licenses, Custom Licenses, Content Services and Free Uses. The publisher sets up the package of licenses offered per article as well as the costs.

Instant Licenses include Instant Desktop Copies (a printed copy), Hosted E-Prints (a copy either hosted on iCopyright servers or provided as an in-line frame), email distribution (with no advertisements), Republish in Print and Excerpt Rights.

Custom Licensing provides the customer the opportunity to customize the article in the form of a reprint or e-print with the help of a publisher's agent.

Content Services allow the user to subscribe to the publication, to discuss the article on the publisher's blog or user forum, or to contact the publisher directly.

Free Uses give the user the ability to print up to 10 copies of an article for free and email it up to 10 recipients for free. Free save and free web posting of the full articles are also available.

Mike O'Donnell likes to say, "If not iCopyright, than what?" If an instant mechanism exists to honor copyright, most people will use it. If a mechanism does not exist, they will surely "take it" anyway, but without attribution or compensation to the publisher. If publishers expect people to call, fax or email permissions requests, they are kidding themselves. Without an instant, automated permissions system like iCopyright, copyright would become irrelevant in the digital age. iCopyright believes that copyright is not only relevant, it is the very foundation upon which most content is created.

Don't misunderstand this point. iCopyright is not a strong believer in draconian copyright laws or DRM (locking) technologies. iCopyright is an honor system. Give people the opportunity to engage with a work of authorship and to respect the author-to voluntarily comply with the author's rights-and most will. Those who don't are lost souls and there is not much a content creator can do to make them honor copyright anyway.

Learn more about honoring copyright at:

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