I had an interesting chat with Michael O’Donnell, Founder & CEO of iCopyright, Inc. this week. He said the company is in the process of concluding a $100K study on how commercial users interact with digital content. They tested “home grown article tools” as well as iCopyright, Rightslink, Clickability and more, essentially “any way that publishers are currently allowing readers to do something with content, besides read it.” He said one of the things he found most interesting was an editorial notion that, once an article is published, it is over with;” that content makes money on primary publication and that is that.
To the contrary, O’Donnell says iCopyright is “seeing a tremendous opportunity to make money downstream.” He suggests that there are a couple of relatively small things a publisher can do to help navigate these waters: For example, make it easier (and clearer) for users to do the right thing. iCopyright found one prominent newspaper with a wildly popular website that was granting an implied license to do whatever users wanted with its content. How? By providing free “email this” or “print this” features. No, O’Donnell wouldn’t suggest taking away the ability to readily share content, or to print out a copy. He wouldn’t even suggest putting up a wall. Instead, he says: when users click one of these handy features: make copyright clear. “you can still use the honor system, but simply by communicating the limitation that you can, say, print one copy for personal use, many readers will think twice before printing out a couple of hundred copies.” Better, provide an easy way for them to readily order legal reprints which can help “recapture millions of dollars in lost revenue.” I like the sound of that. Join us at BSeC and to hear O’Donnell discuss the complete study results, and how to apply them to the bottom line.