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For smaller sites and blogs, one of the tougher challenges is obtaining or creating professional-quality content. This is especially true for news-related sites that often build upon content from mainstream media and major online news players as part of their own reporting.
Many have simply posted clips from videos or used snippets of articles and relied on fair use to protect them. While this strategy can be very effective, if done correctly, it doesn’t provide much security, especially as content creators get more aggressive in dealing with unwanted distribution of their work.
Voxant, however, feels they have a better solution. They have partnered with over 300 different news sources, including the Associated Press, Reuters and CBS, to provide free and legally embeddable videos, images and articles to blogs and Web sites, regardless of size.
Their site, Voxant Newsroom, not only opens up a slew of new content to bloggers, but also centralizes it into one place. making it easy to find whatever one is looking for while making it extremely easy to embed.
For bloggers and other Web publishers, Voxant provides several very compelling reasons to look at its service.
- Quality Content: The news-related content provided by Voxant is very high quality, the same routinely seen on mainstream media and other professional news sites. Many of the sources, including the AP and Reuters, were only previously available to very large partners who could afford subscriptions to the service.
- Variety: Voxant has a very surprisingly large selection of content available on its site. With hundreds of thousands of items across a variety of subjects, it is possible to find video and articles on everything from business and politics to humor and entertainment.
- Near Real-Time: Many sites that provide embedded content come with a delay between when the material hits other sites and is available for general use. Much of the content on Voxant’s site appears within a day of going live elsewhere. This makes it much easier to find current content to use.
- Local Focus: Voxant also has over 100,000 video clips from local television station news broadcasts and includes material from cities such as Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Boston, St. Paul and more. May likely be the best option for bloggers with a local focus.
- Profit Sharing: Unlike most sites that allow video embedding, Voxant shares profits with sites that republish the content they provide and do so at a set rate.
In short, Voxant provides bloggers with a wealth of content previously unavailable to them for licensing and manages to both simplify the process of getting the content into their sites and eliminate any and all copyright concerns over the work.
It has the potential to be a major boon for bloggers as they work to compete with larger news sites for visitors and subscribers.
For Content Creators
On the other side of the coin, content creators also have many good reasons to partner with Voxant. Not only do they earn a portion of the advertising revenues was well, which comes at zero cost to them since Voxant provides all of the hosting, Voxant also provides better protection for the content than most traditional content embedding services.
Videos embedded through Voxant can not be easily downloaded in FLV format, like YouTube clips can be, and all of the articles and images are embedded in Flash to avoid easy copying and pasting as well as allow for advertising insertion.
However, likely the most important reason for content creators to weigh using Voxant is due to the fact that the site allows an extremely high level of control and tracking. Their dashboard allows you not only to see how many times it has been viewed, but also where it is available and control the use of the content within the terms of the license.
This can help help news organizations maintain control over their intellectual property, even though it is hosted by Voxant and available for easy embedding.
Caveats and Concerns
But while the service Voxant provides with its Newsroom site is very impressive and provide many reasons to be excited, there are still some issues that add some friction to the experience.
- Intimidating Licensing Terms: I am not someone easily put off by reading a license agreement but the Voxant agreement, especially as it is displayed in the small pop-up window, is very intimidating. However, this is something that they are working on in an upcoming update.
- Limited Embed Options: Though they provide more options than most sites, it may be difficult finding an embed, especially for video, that looks good on your site. There is no way to currently manipulate colors or appearance of the player, something that may change in a future version.
- No Editing: Where sites such as Hulu allow users to select a time range to target with their embed, Voxant does not currently provide that due to the wishes of their content partners.
- Pure Flash: Though the heavy use of Flash is what enables Voxant to display ads against the content, it may frustrate some to note that both the articles and the images available for embedding are both done so using Flash and are not available in either clear text or jpg format. Other sites may be preferred content sources for those kinds of content.
- Advertising Enforced: Many blogs do not wish to run ads on their site but, unlike YouTube and other embeds, Voxant forced advertising in all embedded content, even if the site does not participate in the revenue sharing program.
But while these issues may cause some bloggers to shy away from using Voxant content on their site, for others it will seem like a very small price to have access to such a large library of quality embeddable content.
What is impressive about Voxant is not the technology behind it. Flash video streaming and embedding has been available on a variety of sites for quite some time and some sites, such as Blip.TV, provide more elegant players and tools.
Rather, what makes Voxant stand out is what it has achieved behind the scenes, getting hundreds of copyright holders, including many key industry players, to agree to have their content made available for free, legal embedding on a variety of sites.
This has opened up a new world of content to the general public and makes it possible for an average blogger to provide news and information once only available to major news outlets.
Best of all, by providing a compelling legal alternative, Voxant may be helping discourage content theft of these works and turning what might have been a copyright infringement into a mutually beneficial relationship.
It will be interesting to see if and how bloggers use this service and what impact it has on Web-based news reporting.