A Copyright Battle for the 2010s

This article, by Michael Baumann, originally appeared on AllBusiness.com on 7/1/10.

The struggle to control and monetize intellectual property is hardly a new one for publishers and other content creators, but it is one that is constantly evolving. With an ever-changing set of technologies for creating and distributing content, users tend to create new norms and come up with new ways to circumvent intellectual property law faster than publishers can find ways to stop them.

Content creators are doing their best to stay ahead of the curve, protecting and monetizing their material while still being able to market and sell their wares. On the other hand, users are trying to keep from running afoul of the law. 

Mobile Devices and Rising Costs

In the past decade, perhaps the biggest change in how people consume digital content is where they consume digital content. In 2000 (or even as late as 2004 or 2005), that place was at a desktop or laptop computer, usually through a wired Ethernet connection. Today, that place is almost literally anywhere in the civilized world.

"Digital once meant the web to most people," says Chris Kenneally, director of author relations for the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). "Most people got to the web one way – they sat at a desk and worked at a desk. That was only 5 years ago." Today, that has changed. "What we have seen, of course, is devices like the iPhone and other smartphones change that completely," he says.

Where publishers previously only had to create one form of an article or photo, the burden is now on content creators to produce material that can be viewed on screens and interfaces as large and complicated as desktops and projectors or as small and simple as the iPhone. For example, NYTimes.com produces five versions of each article, according to Kenneally. With digital publishing getting more complicated, it becomes more and more important that content providers can maximize their return on investment.

"Each of the platforms requires its own special development," says Kenneally. "It used to be you put the ink on the printing press, run the ink through, and youVe got a newspaper. Then you’ve got the pixels for the website, and that was its own separate branch of the business. I can’t take the same text and float it out on all these different platforms – it’s just a cost issue."

 Marketing and Monetization


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