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Consortium To Share Ad Revenue From Stolen Stories 94

Posted by timothy
from the mandatory-licensure-is-next dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Erick Schonfeld has an interesting story in TechCrunch about a consortium of publishers including Reuters, the Magazine Publishers of America, and Politico that plans to take a new approach towards the proliferation of splogs (spam blogs) and other sites which republish the entire feed of news sites and blogs, often without attribution or links. For any post or page which takes a full copy of a publisher's work, the Fair Syndication Consortium thinks the ad networks should pay a portion of the ad revenues being generated by those sites. Rather than go after these sites one at a time, the Fair Syndication Consortium wants to negotiate directly with the ad networks which serve ads on these sites: DoubleClick, Google's AdSense, and Yahoo. One precedent for this type of approach is YouTube's Content ID program, which splits revenues between YouTube and the media companies whose videos are being reused online. How would the ad networks know that the content in question belongs to the publisher? Attributor would keep track of it all and manage the requests for payment. The consortium is open to any publisher to join, including bloggers. It may not be the perfect solution but 'it is certainly better than sending out thousands of takedown notices' writes Schonfeld."
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Consortium To Share Ad Revenue From Stolen Stories

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    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by carlzum (832868)
      Agreed. My knee-jerk reaction was "how dare they!", but after reading the article it sounds like a more realistic approach than the AP has taken [informationweek.com]. "Spam Blogs" republish work with the intent of generating ad revenue. Ad networks should direct that revenue to the authors. It's in their best interest, failing to compensate the authors will push them to take a hardline stance against news aggregators, and ultimately deter them from investing in new content.
      • I entertain the faint hope that sharing revenue would discourage splogs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by antic (29198)

          How? If their revenue dropped 50%, they'd just double their efforts. They're using scrapers, so it costs them nothing to harvest more content.

          Look at spam. If the amount of clicking recipients halves, the spammers double their mailing list to compensate as their cost-per-message is still virtually nothing.

          It's not the right solution.

          • by dov_0 (1438253)

            How? If their revenue dropped 50%, they'd just double their efforts. They're using scrapers, so it costs them nothing to harvest more content.

            So. The sploggers double their efforts. The publishers income goes up in line with the sploggers. Who cares?

          • Wouldn't they double their efforts anyway? Do spammers stop when they made "enough" money?

      • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:38AM (#27671523) Homepage Journal

        Agreed. My knee-jerk reaction was "how dare they!", but after reading the article it sounds like a more realistic approach than the AP has taken [informationweek.com].

        I don't think the solution is bad in principle. I'm sure that in practice, however, it would be terrible.

        Among the potential problems:

        • Creation of an RIAA-like organisation which, not coincidentally, requires a certain amount of the funds it recoups in order to manage its own operations.
        • Legitimacy granted by advertisers to such an organisation would encourage all parties to 'simplify' payments to such 'rights managers'.
        • For small blog authors, chasing up these revenues would be onerous. Larger distributors of web content, on the other hand, would benefit from this. Yet another mechanism to keep the small guy in his place.
        • Nonetheless, membership in such an organisation (because of course, authors would have to register to be eligible for repayment) would become a requirement.

        Put simply, I'm worried about mission creep. A good idea becomes an institution, and we see the little guy suffering once again because large organisations prefer to deal with large organisations.

        Most - but not all - organisations handling royalty payments are built in such a way that small fry don't get a fair shake. They have a relatively small voice in policy decisions, and inevitably get shouted down by corporate interests.

        This group may claim to speak on behalf of bloggers like me whose content gets copied all the time, but I can't see it working out to my benefit. All I can see is yet another group empowering themselves at my expense.

        • by carlzum (832868)
          I have the same concerns about the slippery slope this could create. I like the idea in theory though. I'd rather ad networks share revenue generated under the current system instead of publishers adopting the MPAA's and RIAA's approach of demanding full control of distribution. That seems to be the direction the AP is heading.
        • by steelfood (895457)

          You just have to get enough bloggers to join, and the ability for members to have a say on the affairs of the organization. At least when it comes down to the important issues, the mob of bloggers will be heard. Or even if bloggers get marginalized within the structure of the organization, if they suddenly leave or threaten to leave in protest, it will diminish the legitimacy of the organization. It should be fairly obvious that bloggers can organize and take action pretty damn quickly.

          However, if there wer

    • by zotz (3951)

      So long as they don't try to have it both ways.

      Collect revenue for the ad companies and then sue the others and collect again.

      (well they could get it wrong in other ways too. there is so much foolishness in the system currently, i imagine it will be hard to get something right. Perhaps what these big industry players need to do is make their own industry equivalent of statutory licenses for their content and place all of their content into such a system. ???)

      drew

  • by powerspike (729889) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @10:51PM (#27670607)
    Maybe the RIAA should take a look at them. Give away your goods for free, and get somebody else to pay for it, i don't think the RIAA have though of that one yet have they?
    I've had this happen to me previously on a few websites, the easy way to fix it? don't put your entire story into the feeds... seems pretty simple enough, just put in a exert and force them to link back to the original site.
    • The time it takes me to write some simple REGEX the time it takes you to write a good article.
      • by adavies42 (746183)
        html escape fail
      • by Xaoswolf (524554)
        Or do what pages like geekologie.com do, just put links to other articles on your site within keywords in each post. If they only pull the RSS, then each stolen article will link to two or three of your own posts.

        Or you can also set up your RSS to only syncdicate an excerpt with a link to read more...

        , or even better, include ads in the rss, so when it is ripped off, it includes your own ads.

    • by julesh (229690)

      the easy way to fix it? don't put your entire story into the feeds... seems pretty simple enough, just put in a exert and force them to link back to the original site.

      This breaks the purpose of the feeds, though, which is to allow your site's readers to read your content in the environment of their choice (e.g. aggregated with content from other sites they visit regularly). This may not matter much to you, but you can be sure there are people who will be really pissed off by it. Obviously, in the end, it'

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @10:57PM (#27670633)
    that are trying (as often as not, illegally) to charge one party for the transgressions of another? If it's a voluntary program, that may be one thing, but otherwise it is just a crock. It is not legally possible to enter into a contract with another party, and thereby obligate a third party without their consent (or even knowledge).
    • by rde (17364) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @11:14PM (#27670729)

      That's not what they're doing; it says this clearly in TFA (and, indeed, the summary). What they're asking for is a cut of the revenues that would be paid by the ad companies to the aggregator. Yes, the ad company would be handing over the cash (or its virtual equivalent), but the cash they'd be handing over would be taken from the account of whomever ran the page.

      Sounds like a damn fine idea to me, with one possible caveat; it would legitimise the practise, as they aggregators would essentially be paying for the privilege of doing nothing. One could look at this as an 'everybody wins' situation; the original sites get money, the aggregator gets money, the ad company gets clicks. However, it essentially amounts to 'money for nothing' on the part of the aggregator. It also allows them to say to anyone who complains 'just join the alliance', giving them, if not the moral high ground, then at least a position that isn't below sea level.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yes, because the DMCA doesn't give the content owner and other choices...~
        • by Joebert (946227)
          Take a look around the "blackhat" forums some time, scrapers are looking specificly for overseas hosting and there's companies popping up whos main selling point is that they ignore DMCA complaints.
      • That's not what they are doing, but that is what has been proposed by a lot of others, in other similar situations.

        And in this case I agree, I am against it as it legitimizes the practice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joebert (946227)

        Sounds like a damn fine idea to me, with one possible caveat;

        You forgot the part where advertising companies start holding earnings for 90 days to make sure none of these requests come in against the publishers funds.

        The article I'm guessing doesn't bring that part up, but you know it's bound to happen.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Aggregators provide the service of aggregation. That's not getting something for nothing. The question is, how much should an aggregator get for this service?

        • by Joebert (946227)
          My rule of thumb is that any group which can not survive without the other is adding cost instead of value.

          Content providers can survive without aggreators, but aggregators can not survive without content providers.
      • by socketwiz (792252)

        It also allows them to say to anyone who complains 'just join the alliance'...

        For the HORDE!!!

    • The ad network would just have to modify the contract with the ad publishers: if the content on your page is copyrighted by somebody else according to attributor.com we may pay a portion of your income to the original owner, or something like that. If you don't like it don't publish their ads. I do have couple of issues with the whole idea though:

      1. Will attributor.com guarantee no false positives, i.e. legitimate blogs being deprived of income on their own original content because a sentence or two matches

      • Exactly. It appears that they want to legitimize the practice, on the condition that THEY make some money off of it. I don't think this is really in the interest of the original content providers.
  • Is it so hard to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @10:57PM (#27670637)

    make a crawler. Have it go through all the usual channels (digg/slashdot/all_the_major_aggregated_news sites/etc) comparing text of recent stories to what the linked-to websites list. Have it send DMCA notices automatically based on Who is information.

    Then offer them embedded links, infact offer it on the story page itself just like youtube offers embedded lins. It will bring up the text/video with the added feature of automatically providing links to updates on the story and stuff of that nature without the blogger doing anymore work. Ads still be served by the originating news source. Both sides win.

    Or is this unimplementable?

    • by AlHunt (982887)

      >Have it send DMCA notices automatically based on Who is information.

      Automated DMCA notices? I think I want a live person to have to take time out of their day to actually send these things. Unless I can have my robo-attorney respond.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        >I think I want a live person to have to take time out of their day to actually send these things.

        Too late. Lawyers do that work.

        >Unless I can have my robo-attorney respond.

        In all seriousness, a service that provides "I comply" and "I don't comply because...(generate content based on user input using yes/no questions or check boxes or something)" would be an interesting service -- even if ultimately an unpractical and kinda-stupid way of dealing with notices. Perhaps as an educational tool
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Lawyers are alive they are undead, the highest lawyers work for IBM and they are know as NazgÃl.

        http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Nazg%C3%BBl#Behind_the_Scenes [wikia.com]
    • by julesh (229690)

      make a crawler. [...] Have it send DMCA notices automatically based on Who is information.

      Yes. Sending DMCA notices cannot be automated as a person must affirm that they have reasonable grounds to believe the content of them is correct, with the possibility that if they are wrong (e.g. signing the notice without taking reasonable steps to check accuracy) they can be in for jail time. You do not want to automate DMCA notice sending.

  • Two Evils (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nathan.fulton (1160807) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @11:01PM (#27670655) Journal
    On the one hand, blatant plagiarism for the purpose of generating income is not-cool. On the other hand, I'm not too gung-ho about this idea.

    Here's why: The law sucks. It sucks for a reason. Even under the DMCA, there's a process. It may be a POS that needs to be thrown out, but it provides FAR more freedom to publish than this system does. This is the equivalent of the RIAA asking to get all of the advertising revenue generated by all torrent tracking sites, as well as access to the revenues generated by the viruses that were hidden in their works. Seriously, this system is so incredibly easy to exploit:
    1) Join the Consortium for Justice and Happy Fun Days
    2) publish something
    3) encourage others to re-publish it (probably pretty easy -- esp. smaller news sits with specialties, just figure out what they like and fabricate a story)
    4) Contact google/yahoo/etc.
    5) PROFIT

    People will stop ripping off content and start ripping off (very real) advertising income for small and medium sized blogs. Either this happens because of the lack of control, or the entire thing will require a huge bureaucracy that makes it no better or worse than the DMCA -- and so you're not really solving any problems.

    It's not a bad idea... I just don't think it will work.
    • by mkiwi (585287)

      ...This is the equivalent of the RIAA asking to get all of the advertising revenue generated by all torrent tracking sites...

      I don't think this is the case because the torrent sites are not actually supplying the content. In this case, not only are the "bad" sites supplying the content, but they're making money off of it. They are themselves the infringing party. If the two parties were major corporations, you could bet there would be a problem regardless of whether there were any ads or not.

      If the publi

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      2) publish something

      I may or may not agree with your point, but I think that if the grand total is that more information is published, it's a good thing!

      If I am a content provider, I will benefit from publishing UNIQUE content, because unique content will rise to the top of the content shit pool, since more sites will aggregate it. It'll actually cause competition and raise humanity's awareness through the intertubes.

      Am I am being hopelessly optimistic? Probably.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by PopeGumby (1125507)
        Except its not more information, its just the same information, repeated ad nauseum. Once you have written something, and someone takes a direct copy, how does the average user discern who wrote it, and who copied it?
        • Once you have written something, and someone takes a direct copy, how does the average user discern who wrote it, and who copied it?

          Well, if someone makes a direct copy, you just look at the copyright statement at the bottom...

    • Actually I would be totally OK with the RIAA (or at least content groups) getting money from torrent promoters that ran ads, as long as any content creator could join in for a cut. Heck, you could use daily seed and tracker figures to divide up the revenue fairly.

      What bothers me is when media companies ask for cuts of things like blank media on the grounds they MIGHT be used to copy. If you can show clear evidence that a torrent tracker site is listing your stuff and gaining revenue as a result of users s

    • This is the equivalent of the RIAA asking to get all of the advertising revenue generated by all torrent tracking sites

      Wish the RIAA would actually try this, instead of trying to stop copyright violations by beating up on a few weaker members of the herd in the hope it scares the bulls.

  • Why not go all out and say "spist" (spam list), "spost" (spam post) or "spread" (spam thread).
  • third solution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @11:06PM (#27670683) Homepage

    The slashdot summary discusses two hypothetical solutions: (1) Send out thousands of DMCA takedown notices. (2) Negotiate with ad networks for a percentage of ad revenue. I'd suggest (3) fix broken search engines that send users to cut-and-paste sites. I'm really tired of doing searches on search engines and finding hundreds of hits that all turn out to be cut-and-paste pages taken from the same Wikipedia article. They may be perfectly legal, if they comply with Wikipedia's license, and therefore solutions 1 and 2 won't work at all. Google already has various proprietary and secret algorithms for detecting which web sites are trying to game page rank. Shouldn't it be pretty straightforward to come up with a list of thousands of utterly legal, and yet utterly useless, domains that do nothing but cut and paste other people's contents?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by T Murphy (1054674)
      If the complaining companies submit the pages with new material to search engines as it gets published, the engine could use timestamps to quickly know if it was the first submitted. If you don't actively submit your material and get it timestamped, and it matches something else, you lose to anyone that did. It could go one step further and check the repeat sites for links back to the original. If a site repeatedly has no link it gets buried deeper in search results.

      I don't know much about how search eng
      • by setagllib (753300)

        You don't normally submit to search engines, they'll find your page via links at their own pace. There is a lot of sophistication in optimising this process already, but indeed it does not guarantee that the first page found is the first place its content was published.

        • by T Murphy (1054674)
          So then the question is whether it would be a problem if active submission were an option. Frequent submissions found to be copies could get you ignored in the future, but considering spam websites exist because they are cheap to set up, it might not do much good.
    • It's not necessarily just search engines that send traffic to these sites though so while 3 would be nice, it can't be a complete solution.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except that these cut-and-paste sites are serving Google AdWords. If giving these leeches more hits makes Google money, why would Google filter them out of their search results? For fuck's sake, Google actively encourages (and profits from) domain parking.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Google care to the extent that people might choose to use another search engine that provides more relevant results.

        • Google care to the extent that people might choose to use another search engine that provides more relevant results.

          Can you suggest one? (Not being snarky. Getting tired of Wiki-ripoffs, Splogs, and Expert's Exchange hits)

    • by Geminii (954348)
      Better solution: Host news reposters on sites which are not subject to takedown notices. Watch content providers continue to struggle with the concept that once it's out on the net, it's effectively free to the entire planet.
  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @11:23PM (#27670809) Homepage Journal

    god this reminds me of a quote [imdb.com] from a star trek movie...

    McCoy: How much and how soon?
    Alien: How soon is now. How much is, where?
    McCoy: Somewhere in the Mutara sector.
    Alien: Oh, Mutara restricted! Take permits many; money more.
    McCoy: There aren't gonna be any damned permits! How can you get a permit to do a damned illegal thing? Look, price you name, money I got.

  • After reading about so many IP and content protection schemes for so many years, we may be witnessing a trend which makes sense commercially. Someone needs to pay for all this 'free' stuff, somehow, somewhere. Why not have the money flow overhead? Content owner to 'borrowers': just hand over some money and no-one gets hurt.
  • If I was a publisher, I would sue the ad networks that make this all possible, rather than cooperate with them.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except that now the ad networks and the search engines are the same entity. Oops. You just sued one of your major sources of traffic.

      • by argent (18001)

        Oops. You just sued one of your major sources of traffic.

        If the search engines start retaliating that just increases the damages they have to pay.

    • And if you were a recording company, you would sue the torrent sites that make all the copying possible?

      Sounds familiar...
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      sue for what? they aren't serving out your copyrighted material or linking to copyrighted material.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        They exist exclusively to facilitate the serving of your copyrighted material. If I were to rent a server in some country with no copyright laws, host a bunch of movies on it, then host a front end somewhere in a first world country linking to a redirect on the back-end server (not directly to the file), would you expect the front end to escape litigation?
        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          your page is linking, the ad networks do no such thing, they happen to be embedded into the same page that includes infringing content but there is no relation. The ad networks do not exist for this purpose, they happen to gain from it like any other domain squat or key word squat.
  • Is This Profitable? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Are these copy-cat websites actually profitable?

    • Not any more. But if you can steal their revenue without having to do much work, who cares if they're profitable?

  • Wow, I guess all the RIAA Lawyers had their head stuck up their ass and didn't hear the phone call.
  • Ahem... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clinko (232501) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:12AM (#27671109) Homepage Journal

    How it works: [attributor.com]
    "Attributor scans billions of web sites, blogs and social networks on a continuous basis to find copies of your content across the web."

    Another example:
    Just like when attributor [attributor.com] copies another site's design [secureserver.net] and embeds a remote site's image [godaddy.com].

  • not gonna happen. change your business model yo.
  • Strenuously argue that the RIAA is evil and that copying music is not an issue...through a myriad of excuses.

    Why is this any different? Music, news...one can make all the same arguments.

    And honestly...talking about "how to tinker with your feeds to make it tougher..." is just another form of DRM, isn't it?

    Something to think about.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Reuters etc already make their news available free of charge on their website, so why read it on another site?

      Sites which gather articles from various sources and provide a brief summary together with a link to the original article, like Slashdot for example, are useful, but copying the whole article word for word without attribution and claiming it as your own is not.

  • So, "Attributor constantly scans billions of web pages to find copies of your content across the Internet"? Apparently at least partially in stealth mode [johannburkard.de]. Me, I've long been tired of the myriad bots whose owners believe they have a legitimate reason to trample all over my site for their commercial gain... Haven't seen this one yet but I am sure it will get a "friendly" reception when it arrives.

  • Sounds a little bit (not a lot, but sort of) like they're trying to re-invent the wheel that was already invented in Project Xanadu ...

  • by z80kid (711852) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:04AM (#27673185)
    I don't see how this can work.

    If I'm looking at this right, we have three entities involved: The original publisher, the infringing site, and the advertiser who buys space from the infringing site.

    Now I sympathize with the original publisher who was ripped off. But his case is against the infringing site - not the advertiser. I can't imagine that the publisher could ever take successful legal action against an advertiser without first taking action against the the actual infringer. That leaves the advertiser mostly in the clear.

    So what incentive does the advertiser have to get involved? These publishers are essentially telling them "I want you to pay me instead of your client for each instance where I claim your client ripped me off." That opens up a big legal can of worms for the advertiser, as well as imposing more overhead on his operations. And for what gain to the advertiser?

    • The gain is: Your (the advertiser's) network of ad serving doesn't become commonly associated with spam and worthless content because you stop doing business with sites that cause these kinds of issues.

  • I'm not a Lawyer, but if A and B have a contract where B gives A money, and C convinces B to give C a portion of that money, isn't that close to Tortious Interference?
  • Or maybe Physorg will start attributing their content properly including links to the original stories.

  • Attributor would keep track of it all and manage the requests for payment.

    If I were running a website with advertising on it I'd be worried about the accuracy of Attributor's attributions. How often would I lose money due to false positives? How often would I lose money due to fair-use citations?

    I don't trust these kinds of systems, and I wouldn't want my revenue to depend upon them.

    I wonder how much less money Slashdot would make through Google Ads if its stories were run through Attributor.

  • As a writer, I will agree that something needs to be done about this. I was gutted the first time I saw an article of mine copy-pasted on a dozen blogs. Now that it happens every week, I've gotten used to it. The most irritating part is that often when looking for an old article I've done, the scrape sites come up higher on google than my actual article. However, getting the advertisers to hand over a portion of the revenue could do more harm than good by legitimising the process of webscraping (which is,

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