iCopyright was initially incubated at Design Intelligence. While demonstrating the iPublish product by dragging-and-dropping text and images off the Internet and creating a newspaper or brochure with it, I was fascinated by the reaction of the audience. Most users loved it, but content publishers expressed concern. At the time, many publishers said they would never put their best content on the Internet because it was so easy for people to cut-copy-paste and misappropriate. At the time, it took users 2-3 weeks to obtain a copyright permission from the content owner. I saw this as an immense opportunity.
It was obvious that ALL content was going to be on the Internet sooner-or-later. To preserve author and publisher rights and allow them to monetize their content (or at least get credit for it), there needed to be an automated system for preserving their copyrights and offering Internet users the opportunity to license it. iCopyright was born. It was short for “intelligent copyright.” The copyright symbol would know about the content it was affixed to and give anyone the opportunity to license it instantly. So began the mission of building the first automated copyright licensing system for the Internet.
The First iCopyright Toolbar
The system underwent many designs and improvements over the years. Publishers simply replaced the standard copyright symbol with the iCopyright symbol on the bottom of all of their web pages, plus implemented a script that allowed us to fetch the content in real-time. When the user hoovered over the iCopyright symbol on the page it would light up, letting them know it was interactive. Clicking the symbol prompted the clearance window, offering various free permissions and fee-based licenses. Once a permission or license was requested, the iCopyright system would instantly generate the reprint or eprint, stamp it with a tracking ID and proof of clearance, and deliver it to the user via email. The copyright clearance process took less than one minute.
Updated iCopyright Toolbar w/Free Sharing Options
The iCopyright toolbar was eventually moved to the top of each page and the interface and options redesigned to increase distribution and revenue for publishers. At the height of its deployment by major publishers, the iCopyright system handled as many as 25 million clearances every day and generated millions of dollars in reprint and eprint licensing revenue for publishers.