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Beating news plagiarism online: a business plan

Attributor works with RSS and monitors content syndication on the web.In the early days of the web, before high-fallutin' content-management systems, document control, and database-driven blogs, web authors were for the most part forced to stage their content in a clumsy, time-consuming way. Manually uploading and resizing graphics and hand-writing HTML in an early web editor like "HotDog" or "HotMetal" (remember those?) was how we all did our first web authoring, and thank goodness the times have changed.

With the evolution of multi-user content management software (like Blogsmith, for example) and simple syndication protocols like RSS and Atom, it has become much easier to run high-volume web sites that require constant content additions and alterations. Sadly, the productivity evolution also made it easier for plagiarists to steal content and rebrand it as their own--mostly, we suppose, because of RSS, which give friend and foe alike equal, unfettered access to most blogs and news web sites. Since RSS is an open system with no access controls, it's as easy to rip somebody off using their news feed as it is to use it in the manner intended--usually, syndication with proper attribution of author and publisher.

Seeing this as a problem with a business answer, a former Yahoo exec started a company called Attributor, whose service can track and monitor the use of syndicated content across the web. This is an interesting idea, and aside from setting these Redwoodians up as obvious Google Bait, syndication monitoring appears to be good business, too. Attributor just signed up Reuters as a new account. Not a bad fish to have on the hook, especially when you're just getting started. Attributor also offers a service which will enforce content licensing--allowing publishers to monetize their syndication in a way RSS alone cannot.

Tags: blogging, plaigarism, publishing, reuters, rss, syndication