This afternoon, I wrote about Attributor’s retreat from the video fingerprinting business. Instead, it plans to focus on its core market: creating technology that lets newspapers and other text-based media find and get paid for their content, wherever it appears on the Web.

Now, the company has unveiled results of a study that would seem to support that decision. The start-up used its technology to scour the Net for 101,000 articles run by 1,500 publishers in the 30 days ending November 15. In that time, more than 75,000 sites ran some of the content without the publisher’s permission. On 112,000 occasions, the site ran at least 80% of the article—essentially, the whole thing. They ran an excerpt 163,000 times, and lifted just a headline 357,000 times.

The publishers involved in the study are all part of something called the Fair Syndication Consortium, a group spearheaded by Attributor that was announced in April. According to CEO Jim Pitkow, many of them are interested in using Attributor’s technology to set rules for how they want to monetize their content. They can insist on receiving a percentage of ad revenues generated alongside the content, or insist that those that refuse no longer distribute it. Or the publishers can choose to charge nothing, so as to promote wider distribution.

Clearly, the survey’s results are self-serving. But Pitkow insists the firm has seen a big uptick in real interest from publishers, some of which are finding their sea legs about how to make use of the Internet. The trick is to neither keep their content off the Web entirely, or to give it away for nothing. “Many of them are saying ‘I’m OK with you using my content, but I need to get my fair share of the value it creates.” To the extent that websites agree to support Attributor’s technology—a long shot—publishers would automatically be paid every time someone clicked on one of their articles. “Our technology does to syndication, what AdSense did to advertising,” claims Pitkow, referring to the Google ad-serving technology used by millions of web-sites and online businesses.

Speaking of Google, Attributor’s study claims that 53% of the unlicensed articles had ads served up by Google running alongside. That’s revenue the publishers never see. Of course, Google still holds most of the cards, given that most publishers can’t do without the traffic that comes via Google’s search engine. But given what he insists is rising support from so many newspapers and other publishers, Pitkow says he plans to keep pressing Google and other ad networks to work with Attributor. “We know we have to go back and update the ad networks, to show how many publishers are passionate about this.”

Here’s the full copy of the press release, below the fold:

Report Identifies Extensive Unlicensed U.S. Newspaper Content Reuse and Monetization Online

Analysis Shows More Than 75,000 Sites Reused Content Over 30-Day Period; Google Accounts For More Than Half of Unlicensed Content Monetization

Redwood City, Calif., December 1, 2009 – The Fair Syndication Consortium, which includes more than 1,500 publishers and 75 percent of top U.S. newspaper publishers, announced today the release of a research report on the proliferation of U.S. newspaper content, showing that over a 30-day period more than 75,000 unlicensed sites reused U.S. newspaper content online. On these sites, 112,000 near-exact copies of unlicensed articles were detected.

The report identified ad placement on web pages where unlicensed content reuse was present and concluded that major ad network players Google and Yahoo together account for nearly three-quarters of total unlicensed newspaper content monetization. Microsoft, Audience Science, AOL, and several other ad networks accounted for the remaining ad placement on reusing sites.

“The findings of the Fair Syndication Consortium research brief are significant as they prove that there is a large amount of unauthorized U.S. newspaper content reused online, and that reuse is monetized by major ad networks,” said Randy Bennett, SVP of business development for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). “At the NAA, we’re supporting new models for content monetization as we strongly believe that quality content produced by top journalists and news organizations should be compensated.”

Key Findings: • During a 30-day period (October 15 – November 15, 2009), 75,195 web sites reused at least one U.S. newspaper article without a license. • On these sites, 112,000 near-exact unlicensed copies of articles were found. • Among the top 1,000 sites reusing the most articles, blogs represent less than 10 percent of the total. • In addition to the 112,000 full article copies (defined as more than 80 percent of the original article and more than 125 words reused), an additional 163,173 excerpts were found (defined as less than 80 percent of original article and more then 125 words). • Ad networks from Google and Yahoo dominate the unlicensed monetization of U.S. newspaper content. Google represents 53 percent of the total monetization with Yahoo accounting for 19 percent.

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