August 28, 2018 at 12:11PM Nieman Lab The AP has another plan to track its content across the Internet, and this time it involves blockchain, naturally
As Digiday describes it, the arrangement is primarily a way for the AP to find new customers. And Civil gets an alliance with a big established player:
The arrangement gives Civil access to the AP’s experience in licensing, business practices and product design. The AP gets access to potential new customers through Civil’s network and a chance to learn and adopt the emerging blockchain technology. (Civil is committed to building the tech; the AP hasn’t formally committed to being involved in the building.)
“People who are creating content aren’t in control of it in any way,” Matthew Iles, Civil’s founder and CEO, said. “What this all boils up to is content creators to to be able to get credit for work wherever it’s published and more efficiently track the chain of value and ensure people are getting name credit and compensation.”
Jim Kennedy, svp of strategy and enterprise development at The Associated Press, said finding new customers for the AP’s journalism was its primary interest in Civil, but protecting intellectual property was important, too.
“Right now, we send something out on the internet, and we can’t really track it in all the ways it’s consumed,” he said. “When you’re licensing content to a legacy media company, you can pretty well track it. But on the internet, it’s never been easy. When we do contracts with people, we establish their rights to use it, and they’re generally followed. But when it’s published, it’s freely available for people to scrape and cut and paste. It used to be, we just worried about people using it for free. Now there’s this whole element of people using it for fake news and misinformation. This presents an opportunity to have a real track record of who’s allowed to publish content and how it’s being used.”
Civil says an actual product will be available in a few months, and any publications on Civil will likely get to use a version of it for free.
All of these are longstanding problems on the internet that are aching to be solved. But the announcement is light on what the actual, describable solution will look like, but not to worry — something something something blockchain. (Sorry, Civil’s done the good thing of giving some of the money it’s raised to good publications, including local ones, and is interestingly also looking to support Asia-based media startups. I still struggle to understand with each announcement what exactly is getting built.)
The AP faces a somewhat different set of digital concerns than a more direct-to-consumer digital publisher. Yes, it’s the creator of huge amounts of content, but it’s more importantly their distributor — both to paid-up licensed partners and, less pleasingly, to people who copy/paste AP material for their own purposes. Maintaining control over — or at least having insight into — all that distribution, licit and illicit, is a longstanding goal.
If you were reading Nieman Lab back in 2009, you may remember
, an earlier attempt at building a technological solution to a problem baked into the web. Here’s part of how
described it at the time:
When AP distributes a news item, that content will be wrapped in a container that will include rights information and a tracking beacon that will send reports back to the core database each time the item is clicked on by an end user. The beacon will identify each piece of content, the IP address of the content viewer, the referring Web server and the time of use. The content will also be wrapped in a simple piece of code that will travel with the content wherever it is posted on the Web and that spells out, in both human and machine-readable forms, what may and may not be done with the content.
, headed by former ABC News chief David Westin and with partners across the news industry. NewsRight
about a year later.
— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) August 28, 2018
how ever will Civil afford to continue paying for things that don't make money? https://t.co/X9uWPU4OBZ
— rvb (@ryanvailbrown) August 28, 2018
— Brady Dale (@BradyDale) August 28, 2018