Printing from Periodicals Can Now Add Revenue Opportunities

August 20, 2009

Printing an article this afternoon from Canada’s The Globe and Mail, I encountered an unexpected print dialog box that I thought was pretty nifty.


Instead of just offering the standard print dialog box from the OS, and printing a copy to paper or PDF, suddenly there are additional options which may be handy for you, and can earn the publisher a little cash in exchange for the value you receive. But it doesn’t stop there. To get to the print option you click on the “Print or License” and see the two options


Licensing is where the real fun begins. The main dialog box offers these options:


Print we’ve already seen. I don’t think that many folks would email an article to more than five people, and regardless, most just provide a link. But posting all or (more often) parts of articles happens probably several million times a day. Here are your options if you want to post the whole thing:


As you’ll see here…


…the pricing plan is based on how long you want to post it (non-profits are charged half the price).

If you choose PDF, you pay a little more but have another nifty feature available…


…you can create a proof of the page and preview that. (By the way, the last two screen shots are partials. What they don’t show is a key feature: you can continue down the page, fill in the details of your order, pay by credit card and confirm the permissions immediately. A very smooth process!

Finally you reach “Other Services”:


The interesting one is “Excerpt Article for Print” (note that it des not say “for Print or Online”.)


Nifty little bit of technology once again: paste in the text you want to reprint, the words are counted, a price rendered and down the page you can enter your credit information and the deal is done! (And presumably the text to be quoted is also saved as part of the transaction, so that it can later be monitored.)

But something doesn’t quite add up here (apart from paying $11.20 for 32 words). I wonder why this applies only to print excerpting and not to online. I also wonder what happened to the Doctrine of Fair Use? Like everything related to copyright the doctrine is complex. The most important issue it covers is how much of original material can you use in another publication (song, movie, etc.) before you’re considered to have infringed copyright. The original article that I quote from in the screen shot above contains 1,463 words. I’m proposing to use 2% of them. Not a large percentage, but other factors weigh in in determining fair use. Nonetheless, I’d be interested to hear in the comments section below what people think about this part of the service.

The company providing this SaaS (Software as a Service) is iCopyright. I’m a big believer that a central tenet for all Web publishers must be to seek revenue from all available sources, and this simple service would be a real boon if it became a standard practice among periodical publishers. Lots are apparently using it, but I don’t run into it often.

I’m sufficiently impressed that I’ve written to Mike O’Donnell, the president and CEO of iCopyright (who provides a personal email address on the company’s “About Us” page — a class act), and requested an interview so that I can learn more about the company and its customers. Expect the results in a later blog entry.

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Newspaper Industry Ad Revenue at 1965 Levels

August 19, 2009

I think the big news today is from a blog entry of this title on the Columbia Journalism Review website (courtesy Bob Sacks). Gosh isn’t it great when a smart person really delves into the numbers to pull out the true story?

As Ryan Chittum explains:

So I went back through the Newspaper Association of America’s data on newspaper-industry revenue, which goes back to 1950, to see what year we’re actually even with now. It’s ugly: You have to go back to 1965 to find a year with revenue lower in 2009 dollars than what this year is projected to be. That year, the industry took in $4.42 billion, which works out to $30.22 billion in current dollars. The industry can only hope this year hits 1966 levels, which work out to $32.4 billion in real dollars.

The picture as he details the stats is grim, more grim than I’ve seen detailed anywhere else. Here’s the chart:


Chittum comments about the chart:

What stands out immediately to me looking at real dollars (which are all that really matter), is that the peak of the last recovery, in 2004, with $55 billion, never got close to the peak of the previous recovery, 2000—when real ad revenues hit $60.9 billion. To make matters worse, the 2002-2004 recovery never reached the peak of two recoveries ago, in 1988, when real ad dollars hit $56.8 billion. Recall, this year ads are projected at just $31.6 billion—if they’re lucky—a 44 percent decline from twenty-one years ago.

That folks, is secular decline, and the vast majority of those dollars are not coming back.

Mr Chittum concludes:

Newspapers need a rip-roaring recovery to recover a small portion of the ground they’ve lost, and I doubt they’re going to get it.

What’s next?

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Microsoft, XML, Injunctions & Patents

August 17, 2009

I avoided writing last week about the news that Microsoft had been awarded a patent of some sort having to do with XML and word-processing. I also avoided delving too deeply into what was behind the granting of the patent because as a sometimes expert-witness in patent litigation I knew I’d have to take a month off to really get a grip on what was behind granting it. Then I read an article somewhere (I forget where) in which a Microsoft spokesperson said that the reason for seeking the patent was not to sue every company in the world, but in fact to sue no one, so I let it drop.

Then a strange other shoe dropped. The August 12th news was abuzz with the story that a small Canadian company, i4i, successfully received a judgement against Microsoft related to Word and XML, for upwards of $300 million, a judgement that would also prevent Microsoft from selling Word in its current version. What to make of all of this?

Well, the story is nothing if not complex. Of course there’s a piece out now about a leaked Microsoft email that implies that Microsoft knew about i4i’s patent and technology and decided to just steal it. I suppose this is not impossible, but strikes me as highly improbable.

Worse if you make the great mistake of trying to delve into the real complexities of the two patents, which can be done on O’Reilly’s site and elsewhere, you’ll soon find yourself down Alice’s hole into Wonderland, and wishing desperately to escape.

The major issue for the future of publishing is whether this is a major setback to the adoption of XML in the publishing industry. Most of us agree that XML is a great benefit to most publishers, and while complex to implement, the implementation should include a workflow that begins somewhere near Microsoft Word.

My prediction is that all of this will flow through the courts and the wallets of the lawyers and in due time calm will resume.

Update September 4th: The court has granted a stay on the injunction against Microsoft and will hear the next round in the case on September 23rd.

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How Do You Evaluate a Website?

August 14, 2009

I have two clients currently (three if I count myself) who are asking the question: “How do I evaluate the essential quality of my website?”

There are no shortage of metrics. Many look to the pretty good free service of Google Analytics. There are a ton of supplementary alternatives. I’m currently a subscriber to Visistat, recommended by my webmeister.

Of course the term “quality” is extremely loaded. What does that term mean to you? To me it just means “effectiveness.” Is my website performing in the way that I wish it would, drawing the maximum number of visitors, and bringing folks back after they’ve visited the first time? There are no shortage of additional metrics that comprise a successful site, but let’s start there.

As I investigated the subject I encountered the term “Web Experience Management.”

It’s not widely-used, but that doesn’t matter to me: I like it.

We can talk about “information architecture,” or go simple and discuss “stickiness,” but I feel strongly that the current discussion and definition surrounding the REAL value of any site lacks a holistic approach.

Web Experience Management (of course shortend to “WEM”), does take a broad view of the users’ entire engagement with the site. And that’s what matters. How many unique visitors per day is fascinating and gratifying, return visitors matter greatly, pages visited are key, but we need to find a publishing metric for the entire experience at a website, jsut as we need book reviews for fascinating first novels.

I’ll be writing much more about this is the months ahead, but just wanted to offer a heads up.

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Fun Facts About Blogs

August 11, 2009

According to the Harper’s Index in the August issue of the same magazine, which cannot be seen here unless a subscriber, 94% of blogs have not been updated in the last four months (Harper’s quotes Technorati as the source).