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Copyright issues could tie up Redlasso

When it comes to the online world, copyright issues and allegations of piracy never go out of style.

When it comes to the online world, copyright issues and allegations of piracy never go out of style.

Call me old-fashioned, but if I were going to start up a Web site to provide video clips of network television news, I'd make sure that I got permission to do it.

After all, reporters, producers and more labor to produce the shows. The companies who own the shows make their money from the advertising they sell.

Are there other ways to "monetize" those shows? That's what a King of Prussia start-up called Redlasso Inc. has been promising.

Redlasso CEO Ken Hayward said that his Web venture has been having discussions with the owners of video content, including the broadcast networks, regarding syndication for two years.

But it has no agreements with any of them.

Last November, Redlasso launched a password-protected version of its search technology aimed at the blogosphere. The idea was that bloggers would use Redlasso to create clips from news or entertainment shows.

Do they ever. Redlasso supplied statistics that show the site attracted 23.8 million unique visitors in April. Clips generated 104.6 million "impressions" and 10.4 million actual plays. was the top referring site last month.

Traffic online like that will get you noticed, and the networks have obviously seen enough.

NBC, Fox and CBS sent a letter dated May 19 expressing concern over Redlasso's "unauthorized copying and distribution" of copyrighted content. The letter demands that it stop "reproducing, distributing and publicly performing" the content.

The networks want a written response by May 29.

Hayward would say only that Redlasso is talking with its own legal counsel about how it will respond.

Hayward maintained that Redlasso is a "solution" to the problem of programming being uploaded to the Internet without the owners' knowledge or consent.

But I can't get past how Napsterish Redlasso's business model is. And if this dispute goes to court, its failure to obtain permission could be the noose that hangs Redlasso.