Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Publishers get a good gun - then aim it at their feet

The Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP) technology, launched by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and various other groups, aims to calm publishers’ fears that they are getting a bad deal when their content is indexed online. Reports e-consultancy.

Tagging is ver good and helpful. It is an aid to finding stuff on-line.

They say that the system, set for launch later this year, will tell search engine’s crawlers how their material can be used, so that the likes of Google and Yahoo! can no longer claim ignorance of their copyright rules.

Ah... so now the publishers want to use it to hinder finding stuff online - why do that?

This system is intended to remove completely any rights conflicts between publishers and search engines,” said Gavin O’Reilly, president of WAN and also the COO of Independent News & Media.

This industry-wide initiative positively answers the growing frustration of publishers, who continue to invest heavily in generating content for online dissemination and use.

The move follows a recent Belgian court ruling that Google had infringed on newspapers’ copyright by publishing sections of their articles.

So this is a copyright protection idea. Its so that publications can generate content and be paid for the content.

They have a problem. Millions of people create content (blogs, wikis, podcasts, vidcasts, lectures, papers ..........). Some of it is very very good content.

Content is cheap.

The idea that you are going to protect copyright is a fine idea. It means that if you have a monopoly, you can sell it.

But this is only true as long as you have the monolpoly and is only true if your monopoly is competitive. It is only true if you can innovate (generate original content) faster than your competitors.

And what do we know about this? We know that is not how it works.

When Bloomberg broke the story about Mrs Blair commenting about Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour Party Conference yesterday, it had no value until broadcast. At that point a frenzy of activity by journalists added to the story. They took the copyright and added value to it but it the value was in its presence on the newswires and Internet. The real value in conversations all over the world was well beyond the reach of the publishers. It was a topic of conversation in households pubs and bars all over the place. That is where the real value was.

And, if it had not been Carolin Lotter who spilled the beans, it could have been a blogger. The result would have been a firestorm just as potent.

All I say to the publishers is to be very careful what you wish for.