Is it possible to create more efficient links between searches for online content and multiple payment or monetization schemes?

ImageSpan, developer of licensing automation technologies, appears to have come up with a very efficient approach: linking search results from a search engine to a purchase or licensing engine.  (Read this for more detail.)  What ImageSpan aims to do is develop a solution designed to remove inefficiencies in the online content world while also potentially making accessible to many classes of creators the kind of Internet transaction environment leveraged by iTunes or Amazon.

Before I go any further, we have to remember this: for ImageSpan’s system to work — to really leverage the scale and reach of online search — a major search-engine or two (and we all know who they are) and a global payment/settlement system or two (there are a few) will have to be in place. With one or more of each are in place, I think it’s safe to say there will be significant new monetization and promotional opportunities for a slew of content creators and rightsholders with content to sell, license or share, but want the tracking and accounting capabilities.  

Among the biggest potential beneficiaries for ImageSpan’s new approach would be the vast number of individual photographers, videographers, independent musicians and bands who want to leverage a search engine’s vast reach and scale to find buyers or licensors of their creation. 

ImageSpan’s introduction of its License Creators 2.0 platform, according to the company, will enable photographers, videographers, or musicians or writers to sell content direct to consumers, or to license content to licensees, directly within search results. For example, a query for a song or even a general search as “sailboats on the ocean,” would return a list of songs or a set of images depicting sailboats on the ocean. Underneath each would be links to “license” or “buy.”

Because ImageSpan’s platform can embed licensing terms and business rules (the rightsholder’s requirements for how a consumer or customer can use the content) and track usage, multiple licensing options beyond a straight-up a la carte sale are possible. So, for example, a music supervisor for a TV show or movie, or a creative staffer at an ad agency, could be searching for songs, images or video clips. If they’re using a search engine that is working with ImageSpan, they could find the content they want and consummate the licensing agreement right from the search results.

This all sounds great. But as with all things involving copyrighted material, online consumers, content creators and money, there are a few potential stumbling blocks ImageSpan will have to overcome: getting creators, publishers and rightsholders to adopt the system and, perhaps as important, working with its search-engine and payment-processing partners to create a transaction experience that comes close to iTunes and Amazon in terms of speed (for the searcher/consumer) and integrity (to the rightsholder/creator). Tags:

1 Comment
  1. 20 April 2009 at 7:47 am
    Jeff Downey says:

    I think the stumbling blocks are becoming more and more eroded with the advancement of specific search technologies. However, the issue isn’t as much what applications are out there to help license content as there are more of those entering into the market but how do we get the users from all rungs on the content ladder to the right licensor quickly and in a manner that does not require changes to one’s workflow.

    It is there where agreements with search engines are limited to how the content can be identified and user pointed in the right direction. The assumption that content users that search these major engines can find where to license it easily is false and licensing platforms alone do not address this issue.

    When the bridge between the content and licensor is bridged properly at the very basic levels of search that is when the real monetization can begin with image licensing browsers. We are getting there we just need a little help being pointed in the right direction. PicScout’s market-leading image tracking and recognition registry services combined with ImageSpan’s Web-based LicenseStream licensing and royalty settlement service, provides LicenseStream subscribers with a view into where and how their images are being used online.

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