tirsdag 2. februar 2010

ImageSpan and Arvato build a way license content for online use

ImageSpan has teamed up with Arvato Finance Services to create a global clearinghouse for web site owners to license digital content such as photos and videos and then pay the proper owners of the property, regardless of what country they’re in.
The deal helps ImageSpan grease the skids for LicenseStream, a service that wraps a photo with tracking information so that the owner of the photo can figure out who is using it on the web. Meanwhile, Arvato Financial Services, a subsidiary of Arvato, which itself is a subsidiary of media giant Bertelsmann, has a payment system that takes the money from a licensee and then distributes the proper share of the revenues to the different parties that created or distributed it.
“It effectively enables the global trade of digital content,” said Iain Scholnick, chief executive of ImageSpan, in an interview. “This is like creating American Express for digital goods.”
This kind of deal enables artists and the owners of their work to get paid for it, based on how much it is consumed on web sites across the Internet, and to get wider exposure to bigger audiences. The company launched LicenseStream in 2008 and it has deals in place with big owners of digital content such as The Chicago Tribune newspaper and McEvoy Group, publisher of media properties such as Spin magazine and Chronicle Books. Those ImageSpan customers have millions of photos, videos and other content to license.
Most big companies with libraries of content don’t make a ton of money from them. That’s because they’re often too afraid or technologically unable to share them across the Internet. But ImageSpan automates the process of wrapping the content in pirate-proof technology and then making it available to those who want to license it, such as news web sites. ImageSpan tracks how many times the photo is viewed and thereby can figure out how much money the news site would have to play the library owner.
Arvato Finance Services completes the picture by enabling payments based on the transactional data in more than 60 countries. The Chicago Tribune and McEvoy Group are already generating revenue from the combined service of ImageSpan and Arvato Finance Services. They get direct control over how much they will sell their digital content for, and whether it will be handled as a one-time purchase or a subscription. Scholnick says the process saves his customers from engaging in manual efforts that take a huge amount of time and resources.
It essentially shortens the time between searching for content, discovering it, licensing it, and paying for it. And it also simplifies the tedious process of taking the payment and distributing it among all of the relevant rights holders. And with the transactional data, media companies can better figure out what consumers will pay for and how to give them more of it. That drives revenue at a time when all newspapers are looking for ways to offset the decline of traditional revenue streams, said Randall Weissman, news administration editor at the Chicago Tribune.
For customers who license the photos and other assets, it means a wider selection of content that can be searched more easily. And that, in turn, means that they can produce better content for the end consumers who view the images and other content.
Based in Sausalito, ImageSpan was founded in 2003 and has 20 employees. It has raised $16 million to date. Rivals include Getty Images, iTunes, Amazon.com, Hulu.com, Photrade and GumGum. Investors include Bertelsmann, Greycroft Partners, Village Ventures, the New York City Investment Fund, City Light Capital Management and Ackerley Partners.

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