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The Associated Press and 28 news organizations, including Salt Lake Tribune owner MediaNews Group and The New York Times Co., are launching a company that will measure the unpaid online use of their original reporting and seek to convert unauthorized websites, blogs and other newsgathering services into paying customers.
The company, called NewsRight, brings together efforts started by the AP and its partners in October 2010 to track the use of stories on websites, blogs and other Internet forums through what it calls the News Registry.
The company said Thursday that it is open for business. The organization is led by former ABC News president David Westin.
NewsRight encodes original stories with hidden data that includes the writer's name and when it was published. The encoded stories send back reports to the registry that describe where a story is being used and who is reading it. The technology can even locate stories that have been cut and pasted in whole or in part.
"More news is available more ways than ever in history. But if reliable information is to continue to flourish, the companies investing in creating content need efficient ways to license it as broadly as possible," Westin said in a statement. "NewsRight's mission is to make sure consumers continue to benefit from all the original news reporting they want while ensuring those who republish content do so with integrity. "
NewsRight spun off from the AP in July and took on other investors and members, including newspaper publishers such as The McClatchy Co., The Washington Post Co., Hearst Newspapers and Media General Inc. The group does not include such large media groups as News Corp., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, or Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today.
The company will initially seek customers among media monitoring services that compile stories online for governments and companies, said Westin. These companies charge fees for aggregating the news but do not compensate news organizations for the use of their content.
Such services may want to begin paying for a more comprehensive offering of stories than they currently get, using their current method of searching the Internet. They would also obtain data detailing how news is being consumed, Westin said. A business deal with NewsRight will also allow customers to avoid infringing on copyrights, he said.
"Our goal is to resolve that (legal) question through a mutually beneficial business arrangement," Westin said.
NewsRight employs six people in San Francisco and five in New York. Westin did not disclose how much investors have put in but said some investors contributed goods and services rather than money, and all are minority shareholders.
Newspaper analyst Ken Doctor said the first year of operation for NewsRight will test how much of a market there is for the service. A key selling point is the data on story usage, which could help advertisers measure the audience they want to reach more effectively, he said.
"The data is hugely important, and it could be that News Registry and NewsRight has a unique asset, but the market has to be tested," he said.
Doctor added that some newspaper publishers have been reluctant to join NewsRight because they were concerned its activities could affect other licensing deals they have online.