September 17, 2009 |
Russian information agency RIA Novosti (RIAN) is well known here in Russia as one of the major fighters against copyright infringement as they try to support their own positions (and revenues) online in competition with those online resources that basically do nothing but republish RIAN’s own materials. In fact, I have a feeling that they study the experience of their western counterpart Associated Press and repeat their actions – after modifying them to fit the Russian reality and legislation.
And while trying to claim copyright infringement everywhere they can and trying to pull the materials that don’t quote the initial source of information is a very ordinary way to protect copyright online, now RIAN has come up with a new – and a pretty creative – measure. This time they are going to ask search engines for help in protecting copyright of information agencies.
Earlier this week at a round table dedicated to copyright on news pieces published by news agencies, a representative of the agency mentioned that they have found a reason for loss of part of their potential profit: search engines frequently rank those pages that do nothing but repeat the original materials of news agencies higher than similar pages of the news agencies. Of course it is obvious that when such things happen, search engines send more traffic to such publishers while the original producers of the materials – the news agencies – get less traffic which converts in lower advertising revenue.
And while fighting against unfair competition is a tricky road where the news agency will hardly get any significant success, now that they know that search engines contribute to the decrease in advertising revenue, search engines will have to help them in their holy war. The idea is that search engines will have to modify their ranking algorithms so that original materials should be placed higher in the search results – thus sending traffic to producers of such materials.
No certain measures on how exactly the news agency will make Yandex and Google – the leading players in the Russian search market – change their ranking algorithms but the intention is here so I’d expect some ideas on its implementation to be introduced soon.
But the most ironic thing about the entire situation is that the news agency should not really blame search engines for the problem with reprinting of their materials online because there’s pretty much no one to blame but the agency itself. The thing is that paying subscribers of RIAN get the materials over the wire way earlier than these very news are published on RIAN website. And it is no wonder that many of those paying subscribers will reprint the news without linking to the original article on RIAN website – especially since nothing is available on RIAN site by the time such reprinting happens.
So it is obvious that the dilemma is a difficult one here: while the news agency earns part of their revenue off subscriptions, their paying subscribers damage their online advertising revenue by reprinting those very materials. And exactly how Yandex and Google could help the news agency find the proper balance between the revenue streams is definitely beyond my understanding.
Via (in Russian)