Friday, March 02, 2007

Content, Content, Who's Got Your Citizen Journalism/User Generated Content?

and are you going to get anything for it??? (other than a nice firm pat on the ass...)Lately, there's been loads of talk about the integration of "citizen journalism" or "user generated content" (not sure which is a euphemism for what) into mainstream media outlets. There's also been a rise in the kinds of sites that want to acquire user-generated content.

Yay, whoopee, and all that...but a big question y'all should be asking is: What's going to happen to my content when it's put on sites like NowPublic, Associated Content and MSNBC's new FirstPerson?

When I first heard the news about a deal between NowPublic and the Associated Press (when I was in Miami at We Media) I started to wonder about how the thing was going to work. I was esp. concerned when I heard a bit of conversation that Now Public was going to offer the content to AP in a raw, unfiltered state (some time ago I got asked to join NowPublic. back then, the site was difficult to understand and to maneuver--so I joined, but never used it...)

So, what are your rights when you submit something to NowPublic? Well, you may not get any remuneration, *but*, according to its Terms of Use,
Unless otherwise stated for specific Services, You will retain ownership and all related rights in any original information or other content that you publish on the Site or through the Services. In the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of these Terms of Service and the applicable license terms, these Terms of Service shall prevail to the extent of such inconsistency and such license terms shall be deemed to have been modified, in writing, by NowPublic and You.

So, if you wanted to, you can take what you posted to NowPublic and get it re-published somewhere else...maybe even for money. That's fair. NP also has an Intellecutal property policy just in case someone rips off your content.

I haven't however, checked out the arrangement between NowPublic and AP vis a vis the citizen content it uses, so while one still retains rights on NP, but I'd have to further investigate what will happen once AP gets they hold it "exclusively" or what?? I don't have a problem with NP making some money off of AP--esp. if it's used to keep the thing running. Eventually, though, if there's a significant profit, it might be nice to see some kicked-back to folks who get picked up by AP...

As for the aforementioned Associated Content: they have a rather extensive FAQ explaining lots of aspects to how they work. AC "curates" and "publishes" they will save your content, thus making it an advantage to publish to their site exclusively, since it will always be on their site (and they will pay--sending a 1099 at the end of the year...)

So, here's what happens if your original content has already been on your blog (vs. published exclusively on AC): if you have published your content elsewhere first (blog or other pub. means) your content will be considered "non-exclusive." But once your "non-exclusive" content's been published on AC, they can re-publish it indefinitely--and you can't grant exclusive rights to a third-party (re-publish it on some other site or publication.)

AC also has a getting started page with more links to how much one might earn, etc....

It will be interesting to see if content published on AC could add up to "clips" that one might submit in a query to "mainstream" (or "un-citizen") media outlets....

Now, MSNBC is trying, again, to get citizen journalism content, and has re-vamped their old efforts for its new and improved FirstPerson feature. Here, though, is what happens--rights-wise--when you submit content:
All materials submitted to MSNBC (the “Submissions”) become the property of MSNBC and will not be returned. Without affecting any of your ownership rights to the Submission, by submitting your Submission, you grant MSNBC an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide right, in all media (now known or later developed) to use, publish, alter or otherwise exploit your Submission and to sublicense such rights to a licensee at MSNBC’s discretion

There's more in the Terms and Conditions:
By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication through this service, you are granting MSNBC a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to:

Use, copy, sublicense, adapt, transmit, publicly perform or display any such communication. Sublicense to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication.

The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, servicemark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction. give big media your content. They give you the privilege of being on big media. That's it. No money. Nothing.

But, the way I see it: they'll eventually be making *some* money off your content. Even if they tell you that web-based content doesn't make money (at this point in time, revenue for online content is a bit tough to track), I'd think that they're making *something* off your citizen-user-generated content...somewhere....somehow...

Hmmm...does this then translate into our content is being "harvested"? (NBC isn't as bold as ClearChannel's Spendlove to say that directly, so I won't go as far to paint them with the exact same brush...but...)

So, there you have it: three places that are asking for citizen-user-generated content of some kind, and three different modes and models for how it will be used. It's up to you, citizen journalist, how you want your stuff to be used. Are we here to feed our content to big media in turn for a small ego-stroke? Or are we better served by supporting smaller independent media outlets? Or do we want to support any media outlets at all?

Think about it...

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