A content-tracking software company wants the internet's biggest advertising networks to siphon money from advertising on copyright-infringing websites and divert it to the material's original owners. No major ad network has signed up yet.
Attribute is forming the Fair Syndication Network, a grouping of publishers who will use Attribute's content-tracking technology to identify websites which use whole chunks of other people's material in order to attract advertising. The Network will then try to divert advertising money from those sites to the creators of the content.
"What if you received a portion of the ad revenue from the reusing party whenever a full copy of your content is found on another site?" says Attribute's description of the Fair Syndication Network. "Technology now exists that can identify your content wherever it is monetized and ensure that you get your fair share from the ad networks serving the ads."
To ensure that creators get their 'fair share', though, the Network will have to persuade advertising networks to divert money from website owners to the original creators of content.
The system is designed to divert money to content creators from spam blogs, websites which simply reproduce masses of content in full in a bid to appear like news sites and attract pay per click advertising from the major ad networks, such as Yahoo!'s or Google's.
Technology news publisher Techcrunch was invited to a demonstration of the system and said that Attribute surveyed such sites and found that 94% of the sites were served ads by one of the three biggest networks: Yahoo!, DoubleClick and AdSense. Google acquired DoubleClick in 2008 and AdSense is Google's advertising programme for publishers.
The Network aims to convince those three networks that when ad money is earned by sites that take content without permission, some of that money should be diverted to content creators.
Attribute chief executive told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), though, that though it is in discussions with major ad networks, none has yet signed up. He told the paper that he believed the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) created ad network liability when networks were informed that sites breached copyright law.
One problem automated systems face is that copyrighted material can be legally used under exceptions to copyright laws, such as those for news reporting. The Attribute system would only register uses of material above a certain word limit and would ignore excerpts within quotation marks to try to take account of 'fair use' exceptions.
The biggest content producer that has signed up to the Network is news agency Reuters.