Redlasso Inc. CEO Ken Hayward said that his King of Prussia company has been having ongoing discussions with the owners of video content, including the broadcast networks, regarding syndication for two years.
But no agreements as yet.
And with NBC, Fox, CBS and others telling the start-up to cease and desist, those discussions are not going to get any easier this week.
When the Inquirer wrote about Redlasso last November it had just launched its password-protected beta version that it was targeting to the blogging community. The idea was that bloggers would use Redlasso search technology to create clips from news or entertainment shows.
Do they ever. Redlasso supplied April user numbers that show the site attracted 23.8 million unique visitors in April. Clips on its site generated 104.6 million player impressions and 10.4 million actual plays. Perezhilton.com was the top referring site last month.
Hayward said the company is excited that Redlasso has created a syndication application that's popular with the blogging community.
Traffic online like that will get you noticed, and the networks have obviously seen enough.
They sent a letter dated May 19 expressing concern over Redlasso's "unauthorized copying and distribution" of copyrighted content. The letter calls what Redlasso is doing "unlawful" and demands that the company stop "reproducing, distributing and publicly performing" the content.
The clock is ticking. The networks want a written response by the end of the day on May 29.
Hayward would say only that Redlasso is talking with its own legal counsel about how it will respond.
But he maintained that Redlasso is a "solution" to the problem of programming being uploaded to the Internet without the owners' knowledge or consent. With Redlasso as a middleman, that content can be tracked and ads can be sold against the views, generating revenue for content providers as well as Redlasso. (Redlasso currently doesn't sell advertising on its site.)
To Hayward, news shows have a "short shelf life and a long tail." If some news maker is on MSNBC on a Tuesday evening, bloggers are going to want to comment on it the same evening or early the next day. And they want to link to the clip.
Content owners need to be able to get their programming across the Web fast and that's what Redlasso is doing, Hayward said.
The trouble is that's what NBC Universal and News Corp. thought they were doing when they started Hulu in March 2007. That site is an online video service that lets anyone download TV shows, movies and clips.
So you can see that the content owners, who are trying to keep control of their copyrighted works, are trying to tap new ways of delivering it. Right now, they're not interested in having Redlasso be the means of doing it.