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Who's Making Money Off Your Content? -- Attributor

AttributorThe New York Times recently featured this article about a company called Attributor and their ability to track content across the web.  It's a tricky job but one that absolutely must be performed to maintain the integrity of IP everywhere.

It will be interesting to track this company and see how much they're able to accomplish.  Between "fair use" and well-intentioned PR efforts, it's easy to run into a gray area or two.  For example, I often pull small excerpts from books I've read and include them in the reviews I post on this blog.  I consider this "fair use" and am always careful to avoid giving away the secret sauce that makes the book special.  But my opinion of where that line is drawn might be considerably different than the author/publisher's opinion.  I haven't had any complaints yet though, so everyone apparently agrees the additional visibility is good.  (Btw, I also cut-and-paste my blog review on the book's Amazon page, giving it that much more exposure.)

Attributor also offers a white paper entitled Who's Making Money Off Your Content?  I haven't had a chance to read this yet but I plan to do so later tonight; at first glance it appears to cover several interesting topics.


J. Brisbin

Your links need a "www." before the hostname. For whatever dorky reason, the "attributor.com" domain doesn't properly forward web requests. Adding a "www." makes the PDF show up.

Steve O'Keefe


I find it amusing that the article you referenced appeared in The New York Times, which used to (still does?) lock its content behind a registration mechanism. The NYT still doesn't get it that the model is to give the content away accompanied by ads -- just like your blog.

The Wall Street Journal is similarly bullheaded and losing bucketloads of ad revenue with their ridiculous subscription mechanism that prevents their content from being properly indexed for easy search. Everyone is making money off NYT and WSJ except NYT and WSJ.

I'm convinced that, despite statements to the contrary, one of the main reasons Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal was to unlock the web content and ramp up the online ad revenue. And I'm willing to lay odds that within a year the NYT will be also be sold and the new owners will open the web site up and grab more ad revenue. When it comes to choosing between rights and revenues, I side with revenues. It's amazing how many publishers side with rights.


P.S. Your presentation on blogging at ECPA was terrific.

Joe Wikert

J., thanks for the heads-up on the links but I just tried them again from my browser (both Firefox v. and IE 7) and they all seem to work fine; I noticed the PDF took longer to load in IE, but it eventually came up on its own.

Steve, great points, and thanks for the ECPA presentation comment!

Timothy Fish

There are no clear lines drawn to tell us what is fair use and what is not. While using short excerpts is usually considered fair use as long as proper credit is given, Attributor states "Links are part of the attribution you are entitled to from sites that copy your content." I don't agree. While proper identification should be required, links are no an entitlement in fair use. If the content is provided on a license basis then the license may require a link, but links can be a maintenance headache when sites change their name or restructure their content.

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