Friday, September 26, 2008

Who owns what?

The world of content would be lost without the world of context, which helps qualify it and enable the consumers to select it. In the early days the bibliographic agencies supplied lists of basic information which said little about the book, we then went through the jacket image production in the mid to late 90s and today we have podcasts, widgets, videos and digital marketing explosion.

So in a week when there has been much debate about Google’s sample pages in their book search programme, Amazon’s search inside offer, Thomas Nelson’s free book for a review and now Simon & Schuster setting up an in-house digital production studio. Where are we and what are are the issues we need to consider?

We must ensure that the current perceived demand does not create a two tiered environment with those who are big enough doing it themselves, their way and with others having to use 3rd party services and potentially give away their assets. It is important that the industry recognise that we need to provide consistency of information and presentation and yet not stifle innovation. The bibliographic agencies appear to have drawn a line in the sand on the richness of their records, the distributors and wholesalers continue to add extra value, some are making a land grab and some are merely experimenting. However, who is asking what does the consumer wants?

Next is the question of ownership. ‘He who creates owns’ is the rule with digital content. However, with context information, who owns what? What moral rights if any exist? Who decides the line between content and context and also free and for sale?
Finally, where do find what is available and what can or can’t be reused? Is a marketing promotion video free to copy and repurpose in a YouTube manner or is it like all content subject to permissions?

When we look at some of the scanned pages available, it’s often easy to see which were produced for free and which have been paid for, developed and are viewed as assets.

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