Friday, February 23, 2007

Voxant Aggregates Licensable News Content for feeding Weblogs and Mashups

Why do so many news and entertainment clips show up on services such as YouTube? Well, in part because many content producers make it so doggone hard to extract content through legitimate channels. Voxant is aiming to change that by leveraging users as distribution agents for legitimately licensed news and entertainment content from traditional outlets. The latest announced partner is McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, which will provide news stories, photos and graphics via Voxant's TheNewsRoom portal. TheNewsRoom allows one to search news text, audio, video and graphics by major categories or search terms and then to extract code for embedding the content into a Web page. The embedded object (example below) includes a "Mash" button that will allow others to copy the embedding code. The content is ad-supported, with a portion of revenues from ads going to the person registered with Voxant for initiating mashups.

While TheNewsRoom portal is still a fairly raw work in progress the overall concept shows some promise. By adapting a Weedshare-style revenue-sharing scheme that enables clip copiers to benefit from ad revenues content can move from one context to another in a revenue-generating licensed digital object that observes copyright and still allows for a great viral effect in news distribution. A currently inactive tab in TheNewsRoom's "Mash" display is labeled "licensing," presumably a placekeeper for other ways to redistribute a given item under license such as via reprints, CD-ROM or other media. This may wind up paralleling or incorporating services of this kind from CCC, iCopyright or other online licensing services.

While weblogs and other social media sites are obvious targets for this kind of service the question becomes why this type of feature does not become a standard offering in any site that's displaying a piece of syndicated content, much as many sites use embedded reprinting services today. TheNewsRoom is not likely to be a destination site that will attract social media mavens: they're more likely to find content in context elsewhere and want to take it immediately. So perhaps Voxant becomes a service that can manage "mashup" requests centrally for all of the media sites that take in licensed feeds already. These are important details to work out in the long run but for now Voxant has assembled a compelling model for providing legitimate viral distribution of news and entertainment content that deserves to be studied carefully.
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