The New York Times has long been the leader of innovation in digital publishing, no more so than with their Times reader application, an app they developed in conjunction with Adobe showcasing the functionality & possibilities that Adobe Air offers publishers. We have been discussing over the last couple of posts about the new self-titled ‘future of newspaper’ applications that seem to be hitting Apple’s iPad app store with such fanfare.
The issue for most content owners is the methods they use to collect content. A lot of these applications are using RSS feeds as anchors to detect the main content in the links associated with the feeds. These applications are then scooping that content from that site and are determining how much content to display in their automated digital editions before providing a link to the article on the publishers website.
This is of course, a problem for content owners who are furious that the apps are effectively scooping or scraping their content from their site without their permission. Now the app seems to view this as ok as Google are doing something similar with Google News.
The NY times were one of the first to cry ‘foul’ about this when they had Apple take one app, that they saw as generating revenue from their content, off the App Store. The app was removed but reposted a couple of days later.
While this 2 day ban did little to stop the popularity of these products it shows that the NY Times were taking this seriously and now looks like it is coming up with a solution. If you want to use their content in your applications, you will have to pay for it.
The New York times are now testing a new platform that they have dubbed ‘Press Engine’. This tool will allow other publishers to produce their own apps for platforms such as the iPad or the iPhone. So rather than plaster their articles with advertising, they aim to charge publishers a onetime connection fee and then a recurring monthly charge. After that any revenues generated from advertising or the sale of their apps is wholly retained by the licensee.
The first companies to sign up for this platform have not been the content scooping apps but established regional newspapers in the US such as the Dallas Morning Sun & Providence Journal.
So it appears that this strategy will force these scrapping applications to pay for the content they are extracting and I see this as a strategy that should be adopted throughout the industry. It is not the medium of delivery that makes a digital edition. It is the content contained within the digital edition that creates the demand.