Software & Information Industry Association
Ken Wasch has been involved in antipiracy issues in the copyright arena for more than two decades. In 1984, he founded the Software Publishers Association, which merged with the Information Industry Association in 1999 to form the Software & Information Industry Association. Wasch is president of SIIA, whose members include such b-to-b media companies as Dow Jones & Co., McGraw-Hill Cos. and Cygnus Business Media, as well as companies such as iCopyright that help publishers protect their copyrighted information on the Internet. He recently discussed how SIIA helps its b-to-b media members protect their copyrighted content and online reprint revenues with Media Business.
MB: Are your b-to-b members concerned about the Internet's effect on the reprints business?
Wasch: It's a big business, but what's interesting about it is the easy distribution of content on the Internet has provided an opportunity for wholesale piracy as everyone can become a distributor on the Internet—even if you don't have the rights to do so. If someone finds a favorable story on their company in The Wall Street Journal or the local newspaper and forwards a copy of that story on the Internet, that's a violation of the company's copyright. It's a not a violation to forward a link or to get permission to make reprints. For companies like Dow Jones, the Associated Press and Reuters, reprints have become a big business and should be.
MB: Do you have an estimate of how much money media companies are leaving on the table due to Internet-oriented copyright violations?
Wasch: The short answer is that we don't know. If you're The Wall Street Journal, the reprints business has become an ancillary revenue source. For them it's become pretty attractive. When we started fighting software piracy in Europe—this is a story that goes back 15 years—in Italy there were 3 million computers sold in a single year. At the same time, there were 1 million software applications sold. So that means that the average PC was using a third of an application. (Regarding information piracy on the Internet), there are really no good metrics. We maybe need to work with some of the e-mail houses to see what percentage of e-mails have attachments and what percentage of these attachments have copyrighted material in them. M