NewsRight lands its first licensing deal

Two months after opening for business, NewsRight, the news licensing agency created by the Associated Press and 28 other news organizations, has its first client.

It’s not Huffington Post or Google News or Flipboard. Rather, as NewsRight president David Westin had hinted earlier, the effort begins with a self-described “content delivery service” that sells electronic news summaries and analysis to big companies, Moreover Technologies.

Both NewsRight and Moreover are private companies, and specifics of the deal were not revealed. Nor has Moreover, founded in 1998, gone public with information about its revenues or been subject to business press coverage.

Westin told me in a phone interview this week that Moreover gets three things from the deal: cleared rights to news content it uses from the founders and 30 additional companies, a direct feed (as opposed to scraping the material), and NewsRight’s data analytics.

Moreover can sell those as enhancements to its basic NewsDesk product and other services to a roster of clients that include Shell Oil, Sony, Citigroup, Hill + Knowlton and Reuters.

Westin said that discussions with Moreover began last summer as NewsRight was in an organizing phase. “It’s a very valuable first step for us in this market, which has 90 or more companies (though some are quite small).”

Royalties to news originators will be modest for now, Westin added, but if NewsRight can sign on most of the biggest players in commercial content aggregation and analysis that will generate “a substantial amount of money.”

“There is a wide range of users,” Westin continued, “and you can’t really put them in one bucket.” Companies that have built profitable businesses assembling customized news summaries for clients seemed a logical place to start, he said, and negotiations with prominent name players in aggregation will come later.

Moreover and similar companies have no presence on the open Web, so their services are invisible to most working journalists.

But news tracking and analysis is a standard tool in high-level public relations, whether by an agency like Hill + Knowlton or a company like Sony. Tracking the extent of coverage and its tone is an important part of so-called “reputation management.”

For instance, Shell Oil probably wants to know how long rising gas prices will be a top story — and whether coverage is tending to blame big oil companies or offer other explanations.

The client company could probably track prominent recent coverage on nightly network news shows on its own. But Moreover’s sophisticated products, now enhanced with NewsRight analytics, would give a much more comprehensive picture of how the story is playing out in newspapers all over the country and worldwide too.

The electronic era facilitates aggregation on what Moreover calls a “near real-time” basis and with supplementary analysis well beyond a traditional clipping service.

Today’s deal is a small step in a launch that will be complex and drawn out over months and years. But as noted in earlier stories, the stakes for NewsRight are high. Along with online pay wall plans, licensing deals could further establish that content creators can recover some of their costs of producing news from the huge and growing aggregation industry.

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