From the New York Times:
Start-Up Plans to Make Journalism Pirates Pay Up
By SAUL HANSELL
Online piracy isn’t just a problem for music companies; it hurts newspapers and magazines as well. News organizations are now trying to do something about the many Web sites that simply copy articles and paste them into their own pages.
Last week The Associated Press said it would put warnings against copyright violation on its articles and digitally track illegitimate uses. It didn’t say what it would do to violators, but it has been quick to use legal means to block reuse of its material.
A start-up called Attributor, based in Redwood City, Calif., is proposing an approach that is more carrot than stick. It has developed an automated way for newspapers to share in the advertising revenue from even the tiniest sites that copy their articles.
The plan faces many technical and legal hurdles. Attributor wants to take some of the ad money that would have been paid to the pirate site and give it to the copyright owner instead. To do that it needs the cooperation of big advertising networks like those run by Google and Yahoo. So far those companies have reacted coolly to the proposal.
Still, Attributor has been able to attract many major publishing companies to what it calls the Fair Syndication Consortium, which is exploring its ideas. These include The New York Times Company, the Washington Post Company, Hearst, Reuters, Media News Group, McClatchy and Condé Nast.
The Attributor plan “seems to me to be a way to bring order out of the chaos,” said Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters Media.
For now those companies have committed only to receiving data from Attributor about how widely their content is being used on Web sites that don’t pay for it. Later they will decide whether to proceed with the revenue-sharing plan.
“We’re in ‘prove it’ mode,” said Jim Pitkow, the chief executive of Attributor. “We are going to prove to them piracy is an issue and here is the scale. Then we will take that to the ad networks.”
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