Some Thoughts on News Registries

EdNotes: This post has been hanging around unpublished since July 24th. Just discoverde that i missed to push the publish button. Since i still think that it is relevant i’m going to push that button now.

Yesterday the Associated Press made her move and announced their plans for a news registry based on the hnews Format and some kind of beacon / tracking device. The day before fairsyndication.org announced that Conde Nast, Scripps, Gawker, Hearst Newspaper Group, McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) and Newsweek have joined the consortium and that the first ad network: AdBrite also joined.

So for me it looks like an arms race between the two right now ( in the US market). Right now i have no time to explain the details and the differences between the two but i wanted to add some more general remarks on the topic:

  • IMHO News registries are a very good idea, provided that they are open to the public (so that everybody can see what is out there) and  what rights are attachetd to the content. Preferrably they provide an public web frontend as well as an API.
  • The best exisiting news registries i know about in this respect are the NYT APi and the Guardian open platform
  • Their disadvantage is that they are single source only and do not describe the attached rights in a somewhat machine readable format. hNews the proposed Microformat by the MediaStandardsTrust and the AP seem to be a pragmatic way to do that (much better than ACAP)

Hence IMHO a centralized NewsRegistry:

  • Would ideally provide an public web frontend (as well as an API) to an index of the registered content
    • containing at least URL, publisher and headline,
    • preferrably some Metadata and content as dedided on by the publisher
    • ideally realnear-time tracking data like you get with the URL Shorteners (needs cooperation of the original content owner as well as the licensees
  • Would provide some way to (automatically) license/use content. This could be best done by a multi-tiered API.
    • It free level should at least include the NYT API  and Guardian Open Platform models: Content excerpt with link to original source (NYT) and full content with ad (Guardian) as well as full-content for cc-licensed content.
    • The non-free API levels would be basically different levels of rate-limits on full-content. Ideally theere should a a price model that is as simple / complex as the current iTunes model. but not more complex. (It presumably gets more difficult if  resellers are allowed to license from the registry). Rev-Sharing has to be considered as an alternative.
    • The licensees are contractually mandated to provide statistics to their use of the content (this is presumably what AP’s tracking beacon is about

AFAIK the fairsyndication consortium doesn’t plan to open up it’s registry to the general public. I’m not sure what the AP is planning but i don’t think they will open the index up to the general  public :-(

But what about other contenders? Especially the one?

  • The (technologically) best positioned news registry right now IMHO is Google News.
  • They already have the content of  25000 sources, the have proven that they can scale,
  • With the integration of creative commons filtering  into Google image search, and the  they have shown that they can filter on rights, etc.
  • A recent (this years W3C paper) shows that they can track the origin of texts on  web scale
  • They already have a quite successful tracking system that can be used. It’s called Google Analytics

So here is a (may be not so) crazy thought experiment:

What would happen if  Google would fund the operation of a NewsRegistry similar to the BookRightsRegistry?

  • It would be run as part of a non-profit organisation
  • Google would provide licenses to it’s technology to the NewsRegistry
  • GoogleNews would be the first customer for full text-content (for the content that Google deems relevant to include in full at their site.

Your comments please.

Commented on “How (and why) to replace the AP” at buzzmachine.com

My comment on Jeff Jarvis blog post on APs news registry and tracking proposal:

Update: This comment never made it through moderation :-(

Jeff, some remarks from germany:

1)  Wrt. Hamburger Erklärung: In contrast to the US,  in germany there is a supreme court decision dated  in 2000 (or was it 2001?), the so called “Paperboy / Paperball” decision , that ok’s  the use of headline, text snippets and deep link  on news aggregators sites. Things are completely different  for images.

Hence the german publisher have no “attack vector” from this angle. So they lobby hard  to come up with some new rights as “Werkmittler” and change so law  in order to  get new rulings that overcome the paperpoy decision. Basically that is the essence / background of the Hamburg declaration.

2) You can find more stuff about the Hamburger Erklärung as well as the differences betwenn the englich and the german version on my blog http://relations.ka2.de/2009/07/14/hamburg-declaration-wording/ and  http://relations.ka2.de/2009/06/10/hamburger-erklaerung-wortlaut/ (german). BTW: the english version is already way better than the german version

3) Tracking the use and sharing of the content and then sharing of the revenues  as described in the blog post is IMHO the basic idea of  fairsyndicaton.org. But running the infrastructure is expensive and getting the ad networks to sign up is difficult. But fairsyndication.org already gained some momentum.

So from a foreigners perspective in the US its now an arms race between the AP news registry and fairsyndication.org.

4) I think the best way  to do reverse syndication between media outlets is to go the NYT and especially the Guardian route and offer an API for accessing the content. The problem with this is that each media company right now is coming up with its own APi and content / wire format.

Hence the microformat  for news proposed by AP  and the Media Standards Trust  is very interesting to me and should not be intermixed with the active tracking of the content (which IMHO) is a difficult thing to achieve if you have to deal with non-cooperative “customers”.

The worst thing that could happen ist that the tracking part has a negative impact on the microformat proposal. Unfortunately it is also the most likely thing to happen.

5) There is already a de facto news registry: It is called Google News.  They also have the technology for tracking content re-use on a web scale, as a scientific paper called “Detecting the origin of text segments efficiently” www2009.eprints.org/7/1/p61.pdf (PDF) from this years W3C conference shows.

Bold / Crazy idea: Maybe Google should consider to move Google News under the non-profit google.org (set up a dedicated non-profit rights registry, optimally omitting the problems they have with the BRR). They could even leave their AP licensed news at news.google.com  and monetise it.

AP going to launch Multimedia services in Germany

A german media magazine is reporting that AP Germany will launch products that directly compete with two of our core products. Definitely have to ask my good AP friends about this when i see them in two weeks:

Gleichzeitig war zu erfahren, dass AP-Deutschland noch in diesem Jahr mit zwei neuen Multimedia-Produkten an den Start gehen will, also nicht nur kürzt und um- sondern auch ausbaut: Zum einen ist eine direkte Konkurrenz zu dpa-infocom geplant. Dabei handelt es sich um ein Produkt für die Betreiber von Internetseiten, wie Ableger von Zeitungen und Zeitschriften, das AP-Deutschland ermöglichen wird, die Meldungen auf den Kundenseiten auch nach Veröffentlichung neu zu sortieren, zu bearbeiten und zu löschen. Bisher ist AP-Deutschland lediglich in der Lage, Meldungen an CMS-Systeme, mit denen Internetseiten betrieben werden, zu verschicken.

Zu dem arbeitet AP-Deutschland an einem eigenen Dienst für animierte Grafiken Flash, das sich ebenfalls an die Betreiber von Internetseiten richtet. Damit will AP wiederum nicht nur der dpa Konkurrenz machen, sondern auch dem deutschen Ableger von AFP, der sich bisher neben dpa als Spezialist für Infografiken positioniert hat. Das Produkt, das gegen Ende dieses Jahres starten soll, könnte sogar in Fernsehnachrichten Einzug halten, sollte es eine nachträgliche Bearbeitung von den Kunden zulassen, um die Grafiken in ein eigenes Layout zu übernehmen: Die „Tagesschau“ arbeitet zunehmend mit einem Modell, bei dem Flash-Animationen sowohl für Tagesschau.de als auch für die TV-Sendungen produziert werden, um Kosten zu sparen. Das ZDF will nachziehen

AP stellt sich in Deutschland neu auf – medium magazin – medien journalismus zeitung print magazin radio tv online