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Associated Press is to begin sharing advertising and syndication revenue with more of its subscribers, through an extension of a program tha…

Associated Press is to begin sharing advertising and syndication revenue with more of its subscribers, through an extension of a program that turns its clients in to online sales affiliates, according to iCopyright. AP already announced in April a deal that sees iCopyright links added to the wire’s stories, inviting readers of AP customers’ sites to themselves license out articles for new uses. But that deal was available only to clients who host AP content themselves – now it’s being extended to those who just take an AP feed, representing the majority of the wire’s clients, iCopyright CEO Mike O’Donnell told me.

O’Donnell revealed some commercial details: those who take an article from an AP customer can buy the rights outright ($750 per year for one article) or use it for free with an embedded ad, with the AP and its primary customer splitting clickthrough income 50/50. Also novel: newspapers will get to co-brand the subsequent story (eg. “AP via East Valley Tribune“) and will get a link back to their own site from the re-used article.

The Tribune, Globe And Mail and Toronto Star (example here) are amongst the first to have implemented the program in the last fortnight. AP is right now talking with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), AOL (NYSE: TWX), Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), CBS (NYSE: CBS) and others to participate, O’Donnell said.

It’s an extension of AP’s widely mocked blogger license policy, which sees iCopyright facilitate warnings to those who “steal” AP stories. If that warning was the stick, this scheme is the carrot, making options for legal reuse available at the point where articles are most stolen – from AP’s customers. None of this is to suggest all AP’s ills will be cured – there’s little to stop infringing republishers from continuing to bypass this scheme and, despite iCopyright’s monitoring, AP is thought reluctant to bring legal actions.

O’Donnell: “It provides a whole new revenue stream for the members. If copyright’s to be relevant to the AP, it has to perpetuate on through to its members and their audience. Right now, AP content is one of the most cut-and-pasted, which is bad for the member and bad for AP because, when it’s popped in to somebody’s blog or website, the brand doesn’t go, links don’t go back. Right now, we have a vicious circle of piracy, we want to create a virtuous circle that leads back to the member.” It’s also thought Reuters or AFP, too, may be ready to adopt the program.

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  1. A postscript to this story from Paul Colford, Director of Media Relations with the Associated Press:

    The AP’s agreement with iCopyright hasn't been expanded since it was announced in April. All AP licensees have had the option to use iCopyright and share revenue with us from the start. No one can purchase "rights outright" via iCopyright — all uses are limited. In addition, AP has agreed to make the service available to all its licensees — members and commercial customers — but AP has not promoted the service to any particular customers.

    The April announcement of AP’s relationship with iCopyright can be found here: http://info.icopyright.com/news_041408_ap.asp

  2. I have only one question to Mr. Colford: Why on earth you do not consider a simple pay-as-you-go system where it is the reader who pays (however a few cents a time) for AP articles and the AP and/or its affiliates/subscribers simply collect the money based on the number of downloads monthly? Naturally, the system might not be as simple as I describe it here, but the technology to license and then distribute/control (micro)paid content is there. I could show you how it works and how it can save or help to earn AP millions! (mdunin[at]mtm-consultants.com)

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