Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sharing subscription buffet revenue with OA content

Mark Surman, The world is flat (rate), commonspace, April 30, 2008.

... [A] new company called Noank['s] web site says:

Noank's mission is to license and distribute digital content globally while fairly compensating content owners, using the most efficient, sustainable, and effective business and technology systems. Noank's motto is "limitless legal content flow."

The idea is simple: blanket content subscriptions charged by ISPs for all the content you can eat. Users just grab content P2P-style the way they do now. Content creators get a slice of the subscription revenue based on the popularity of their materials. ...

More interesting is that fact that Noank will split revenue with anyone who owns content and signs a contract with them, even if they've already open sourced it. A case in point is MIT Open Courseware, which is in huge demand in some Chinese universities. MIT could put its lecture videos on the Noank P2P network and then claim a piece of the action, even though the material is available under CC free on the web. If it works, this both helps with both international bandwidth issues and allows those who produce open content to bring in money.

Is there are catch? Yes, of course. Noank uses super invasive client software to track the popularity of materials. Each use of each textbook, movie or video is recorded at the file system level on your computer. There is a piece in the client that anonymizes all this info before it is transmitted back to Noank. That may reassure you. It may not. ...

See the response by Andrew Rens, Subscription based open content aggregation, ex Africa semper aliquid novi, May 12, 2008:

... [Noank] obviously offers a possible revenue stream to those who open license their work. But the approach is based on the idea that one pays subscription for content, including open content. While the the aggregator may perform a service by bundling open and closed content, it nevertheless supports the notion that one pays for content, in all contexts including education, and not just in respect of consumer based entertainment.

That is a problematic idea ...

In other words this is a new business model which may help to change the environment within which the open educational resources and access to knowledge movements operate. It provides new challenges because it attempts to extract value from open resources, but does so in a non exclusive way. It does so however by charging a subscription. While the open material will be available elsewhere without paying the premium, the existence of the subscription aggregator may undercut the incentives for open access players to create open access aggregators and services. Those unable to pay the premium, i.e. those who already have the greatest barriers to access to knowledge may face a greater difficulty in locating open content if there are fewer open aggregators. ...