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Keeping up with the times, AP turns into online video broker

The Associated Press news agency launches the Online Video Network to let publishers syndicate their content across the Web. Microsoft and AP get a cut of the ad sales.

The Associated Press, a news cooperative owned by its print-newspaper contributors, said Friday that it and Microsoft have built a back-end platform that lets Web publishers syndicate online video to other sites across the Web. The upside: the video creator, Microsoft, AP, and the Web site publisher share in the revenue from video advertisements linked to the content.

The AP service, called the Online Video Network (OVN), lets members upload video to their site's player and then share it with anyone else on the network, which could include the U.S. Web sites of member newspapers, TV networks, or radio stations. With the service, publishers also have some measure of control over which sites can syndicate their video.

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Associated Press

For example, a New York newspaper could upload video of a local fire, and set restrictions on the content that gives only publications outside the New York City metro area the rights to use the content. That way, it would have the exclusive for the New York City area (even though locals might be able to find the video on a national Web site that syndicated the material).

Robert Aitken, product manager of online video for AP, said that the service is the newest iteration of a 2-year-old project. The original platform offered a fairly basic video player that allowed local affiliates to upload either their own video (to play on their site) or content created by AP's staff. If a local newsroom posted its own material, it would collect a 50 percent cut of the advertising revenue, with the remaining share following to Microsoft and AP. But if it posted the AP's content, the publisher would get a 20 percent cut, with Microsoft and AP each receiving 40 percent. (Microsoft seems to come out well in all these equations.)

With the new system, content creators (inside and outside of a media outlet) that sign up for the network can create video to syndicate to all of AP's 1,800 affiliates, which collectively reach as many as 61 million unique visitors monthly, according to Aitken. In that scenario, a content creator that syndicates its video to a publisher would get a 30 percent cut of ad sales; the publisher, a 20 percent cut; and the remaining 50 percent would be split between the AP and Microsoft.

Contents creators are protected from digital thieves, Aitken said, because the video is contained within a video player. Other Web sites could take the video player, but it's consistently linked to an advertisement.

"In a lot of cases, something might be borrowed and the original copyright owner is not compensated," Aitken said. "But if you upload your video (in this system) you'll always be compensated."