UK Newspaper The Guardian has revealed that it will allow selected partners to reuse data and content from its online website for free provided that they carry Guardian's advertising.
The Open Platform environment essentially proposes a content API (Application Programming Interface) that can be used by site managers to "build applications and services" and is complemented by a Data Store that, in a nutshell, is a set of tools that operates on Guardian's primary data.
An example of a data set for example would be "how much do we exercise in the UK". There are 80 other examples of data sets from "trusted sources" according to the newspaper.
Initially, The Guardian will provide the service as a free one with a limit of 5000 API calls per day and will be handed out on a per-case basis initially. Articles produced by Guardian writers dating back from 1999 will be available to interested parties.
Those who will be accepted will also be required to join Guardian's ad network in the future which might be where the UK newspaper group expects to get a chunk of its revenue in the near future. Interestingly, the Guardian has also a "license/buy our content" on all its pages.
Guardian is also the most visited newspaper website in the UK, pulling in a staggering 30 million users per month, a rise of 30 percent over the month of December 2008. In comparison, 26 million visitors flocked to websites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace during the same period.
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The BBC, New York Times and MSNBC have already embraced this concept of "open platform" that reminds us (slightly) of the copyleft concept with some strings attached. It is unlikely that Guardian derives the majority of its revenue from this project. The key is the fact that it is a residual revenue stream that doesn't have extreme running costs and essentially preserves the Long Tail value of Guardian's articles.