As a follow-up to our post from yesterday discussing the gray areas surrounding the “fair use” of online material, we learned that the Guardian has settled any debate concerning their own publication in one bold move, almost. To that end, they have launched Open Platform a service that encourages readers to reuse Guardian content within the larger context of the internet, leveraging – according to the site – “our journalism, our brand, and the technologies that power guardian.co.uk.”
Despite the labels of “free” and “open” being tossed around to explain the Open Platform’s services, it might not be as magnanimous as it appears on the surface, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In place of the less than reliable click-throughs provided by accreditations and short of instituting a definitive pay-per use model, the Guardian is laying the groundwork for a happy medium between the two – their content in exchange for ad space on parter sites that republish it. Not a bad deal, especially if you aren’t already monetizing your site’s real estate to begin with. And while there are no figures currently listed, those looking to benefit from an ad-free experience will likely have to pay for it down the road.
The initial release includes access to The Content API – a digital archive of over one million articles – and The Data Store – high quality data sets that have been curated by Guardian journalists – both of which have been specifically designed to integrate seamlessly with a host of online applications. While in the beta stages, the Open Platform will limited its availability by requiring anyone interested to apply for permission on a case by case basis. Presumably, by hammering home the idea of “beta,” the Guardian has created an effective cover that allows them to pull back in the early goings and more closely monitor how people really plan to utilize their brand and materials before opening up these services to more widespread access later on.
All in all we like the idea, but it remains to be seen what long term advantages there are to appropriating the Guardian’s content in this manner as opposed to simply pressing Ctrl-C. Given the strict controls in place during the launch, we’ll be curious to see how successful this attempt at unfettered access plays out.