I’ve been following on with interest and fascination at John Battelle’s emerging FMPublishing project. John is attempting to build a publishing company that focusses upon high quality content (nothing too different so far) that attempts to keep the ownership of that content in the hands of the authors writing for it. It is a very hands off approach that I quite like.
One of the balancing acts that I’m seeing many blog networks grappling with is over this question of ownership and equity of the blog. Most people can see the benefit of a publishing network – but there is no obvious, tried and tested model at this stage that presents a win win situation for both publisher and author/editor.
Many of the issues I’m seeing authors and network owners struggling with revolve around ownership.
Who owns the blog, which party holds copyright, who has rights to take the content?
Some of the newer blog networks (like 9 Rules and Creative Weblogging) are offering authors ownership of their content and allow them to take what they write with them at the end of any relationship. The bigger networks like Weblogs Inc and Gawker do not – instead treating readers more like employees. Weblog Empire is walking a middle ground and has been talking of shared ownership where both parties take the content away from any relationship.
This is a tricky issue – whoever retains ownership holds considerable power in any relationship. If the publisher owns the blog then they are able to sell it at any point – if the author owns it they are able to walk away from the relationship without warning , taking an income stream away from the network.