Printing from Periodicals Can Now Add Revenue Opportunities

August 20, 2009 by Thad McIlroy

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.

globeprint1

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

printorlicense

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

licenseglobe

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:

postarticle

As you’ll see here…

posthtml

…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…

postpdf

…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”:

otherservices

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

licenseexcerpt

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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Comments

  • Joel Friedman

    Aug 21st, 2009 : 7:14 PM

    Great posting, young man.

  • Tony Freeman

    Aug 22nd, 2009 : 12:59 PM

    No matter the technological ingenuity of the solution, reprints have not and are not likely to become an important source of revenue for newspapers (or other media outlets).

  • Owen Weekley

    Aug 24th, 2009 : 4:47 AM

    I haven’t had much time to look all of this, but it looks to me that the option to license all or part of the content doesn’t include a “part” option under “Post.” It only has options for full. If one wants to use a snippet of the piece or the title for a blog post that meets the overall criteria of fair use, how does one do that with this system? It appears that I can copy/paste whatever I want.

    I think Tony is right. The content would have to be pretty compelling to cause anyone to pay, especially when it’s a recurring monthly charge. Not likely, or at least not likely for general purpose news that can be had from a number of sources. This method has worked for publishers with catalogs that are no longer in print, when they are the only source. As far as I know it’s not brought in bucketloads of cash, though, like iTunes has for music. But, that’s a different context.