200811172039The Inquisitor is reporting that a recent study from Attributor Corp., a copyright enforcement company, shows that content that is stolen makes more money than the original content itself. I don’t find this terribly surprising, but the solution (hunting down copyright violations) seems to be a Sisyphean task; no matter how many take-down notices that you send out, when content is taken across international borders it’s almost impossible to easily take it down if you’re dealing with an uncooperative content host.

What’s the solution then? The study suggests that content owners need to find a better way of monetizing their assets – figure out how to generate more revenue (potentially by studying how the thieves do it) so that even if content is ‘stolen’ you’re still ahead of the game. The nice thing about this solution is that it recognizes that you can’t ever, really, stop copyright infringement online – the best you can do is learn to roll with it.

Given that most of this revenue is generated by advertising, I almost wonder if that isn’t the weak part of the analysis in ‘generating revenue’. If you have a reporter who is banging out stories of say, 700-1000 words, they likely have a lot more to say. *This* is where you can generate some revenue: rather than maximizing ads, actually sell content. Have a relatively low yearly fee, and after paying it customers get access to articles that go a little bit deeper into the issue at hand. This has the advantage of still providing news to people, and if they don’t want to pay then you don’t need to worry. It also, however, has the benefit of letting your consumers invest in a brand, and thus develop increasing brand loyalty through a feeling that they’re getting something special from the company. Maybe you even release that content to the wider public after a few weeks/months – just make sure that the content never loses its ‘special’ feeling to prevent customers from feeling like they made a bad brand investment.

Of course, the issue then becomes: Isn’t your content still going to be lifted? Sure it is, but at least the thieves are more likely to be paying something for it, and presumably you’ll need to be filing a lot fewer takedown notices. Fewer takedowns will free up your organization resources for far more productive tasks, like generating more content.