Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Copyright is a Business Model

Lots more debate this week about what publishers (particularly newspapers) need to do to save themselves from oblivion. Here are some of the headlines from well respected sources:

Pay Walls Alone Won’t Save Newspapers
New York Times Considers Two Plans to Charge for Content on the Web
There We Go Again. No, Micropayments Won’t “Save Journalism”
Social Publishing Site Scribd Adds E-Commerce; 80 Percent Revenues To Publishers
What would Google do about newspapers?
News Corp Studies Web Content Platforms

The industry continues to look for a "magic" solution, when the "practical" solution is already on their content: their copyright notice (and by extension their article tools). They just haven't turned it on. The copyright notice is a cash register that goes wherever the content goes, without creating barriers to the free-flow of content. It can ring up sales of the content each time it is viewed, emailed, printed, posted, republished, or otherwise used or shared -- online or offline -- whether it is being used for free or for a fee. It also virtually eliminates piracy (unauthorized scraping, copying and posting).

Copyright is not sexy, but it is the best business model for content that has ever been created and will ever be created. It's the thing that both protects content and monetizes it. Publishers are using an old 20th century version of copyright -- an inert symbol that says nothing and does nothing. They just need to upgrade it. Make way for copyright 2.1 -- a version for the 21st century. Copyright is a cash register. Plug it in! Anyone that wants to use the content deposits a few cents or dollars, or gets it for free for other consideration, depending upon the price set by the owner (as with all goods and services.) Anyone who tries to take it without paying gets their fingers slammed in the cash register door.

More on copyright as a business model can be found in these two papers:
A Vision for Copyright in the 21st Century
iCopyright Article Tools: Maximizing Revenue, Minimizing Piracy

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