Sharing content with a value

Just a couple of days ago I was reading Cameron Koczon great article Orbital Content. I really enjoy his view of users/readers being in the center of orbital content and the idea of applications (whatever form and platform) being the gravitational force to drive that flowing content onto the user/reader.

I was then even more thrilled by Camerons’ proposal that this gravitational forces, the applications that will ‘force’ down content on you and me, would share some revenue with content creators. I’ve always been an advocate that content has value and due value must be payed for it.

For some of us blogging, the payment might be in form of page views, since such gravitational apps might bring many more readers to us. But for some content producers, like news media companies, there is a real cost/value for the content they produce. And, in the end, if a professionally created content doesn’t have any real value, I know the gravitational tools will not make it leave its’ orbit and flow down to me, just because I don’t want it.

For such a set of tools, I’m willing to pay something as a reader and get something in return; the right content (which might not be the content I was looking for in the first place – apps that learn what I need) and as a content producer I get, either exposure, or payment for my hard produced content.

After reading Camerons’ article I was thinking that his proposal made sense but it still had some details to work on. What about all those applications are provide a great service but are free or don’t share it’s revenues with the content producers? I know that there will never be a solution that works in a bullet-proof way, but I believed we could work on Camerons’ idea and fine tune it.

Then, just yesterday I started reading about the News.me application. I thought, great another tool to read links from my Twitter. I really love this applications and have been using Pulse, Flipboard and Zite for it. I’ve also downloaded Flud, but I don’t use it that much.

I downloaded News.me and started it. OK, it asks for my email (doesn’t need it to work) and it asks me to login to my Twitter account. Fine, I did it. Then, on the second screen it lets me know I can use the app for free for a week and then I will have to pay a weekly fee to keep using it. Wait! What? I though it was time to really read those posts talking about News.me.

I went to the apps’ website and there it is, you need to pay a weekly fee because News.me pays publishers a fee to use their content. Uhau! There’s a page just for publishers on their website. I read it and it’s true, not only the app is already working with some major news media publishers, it makes it easy for any publisher to enrol with the app. It pays publishers for every time one of its’ articles is read by a News.me user.

Amazing, just a couple of days I was reading this great article from Cameron Koczon and now here it is, just before my own eyes. Talk about the digital world moving fast (or the wonderful world of coincidences!). Right, I’ll go for the free week and if I like the service I’ll choose the year subscription. Actually, I advise anyone that likes to consume content, from Twitter, to go for News.me.

After playing with News.me for a while the previous thoughts about Orbital Content appeared again. I was thinking that this was the way to go but then I started thinking on a publishers perspective. If I’m a publisher, each time a new ‘gravitational’ application is launched on the market I will have to start working with it. OK, if you’re in business you need to earn your profits, but this kind of solution multiplied by a number of apps might become a bit hard to handle.

On top of this, I still have the previous problems, the free apps that use content regardless of its’ creators being whiling or not for the apps to use it (yes, I’m thinking about Zite, Flipboard on its’ first days, even thinking on Google if I want to go the ‘Murdoch’ way).

Another concern is, if I’m the NYT and if one application is using my feeds to grow its’ business, I can always call them back and tell them to use it under certain circumstances or else… What about the Portuguese publishing company that I work for? Or the publisher for that Zimbabwe newspaper? Are small publishers not entitled to get payed for their content if they so wish?

I was back to the drawing board… How to use Camerons’ article idea, exemplified on New.me and still make it work as best as possible? One answer comes to mind: royalties! Think about it, regardless of legal confusions (and there seems to be a lot), changes and ‘black holes’ in it, music royalties have been working for the music industry for some time now (read about it here). Couldn’t the publishing industry learn from it’s mistakes, work upon the current state of music royalties and build a system that could work across the publishing world, allowing for content producers to get paid for their content?

I believe it can be done. Here is roughly how it might work: Content producers would choose either to be payed, or not, for their content. Under Creative Commons, content producers that want to share freely their content are free to do so. Also, by omission, every content producer would be considered to be allowing for free content sharing, unless it made clear it chooses otherwise.

Content royalties would be paid to its’ producers (using News.me method of pay per view) through a organization(s) that would collect those royalties from… you’ve nailed it!… the gravitational applications Cameron Koczon writes about.

If, on the other side, you’re working on the next killer application to provide users/readers with content from the web, you’ll either just use those articles under CC or you can use paid content, by paying a royalty fee. This paying fee includes applications like News.me, Flipboard or Zite but also Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If your application enables sharing content, you’ll pay a fee.

If it can work for music, either with radio broadcasting, Internet  or even restaurants and bars (at least in some countries), it can also work for written content.

If you are a publisher, you’ll get those royalties from the organization I’ve written before. If your publishing business has a paywall, you’l provide the organization with an open feed to be used by the paying apps. You no longer have to enrol with every application developer.

Of course every system has its’ flaws and I’m sure this one has its’ own. There will always be some developers that will make applications outside this rules. Please let me know your thoughts and the flaws with this idea on the comments bellow or please email me. You can find my contacts on the About Me page. I hope to ear from you.

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