The Business of Openness

Over the weekend, a big stink was raised over AP News attempting to squash the use of material by bloggers, even flying in the face of fair use. As backstory, the Drudge Retort, a parody site of the Drudge Report, used a very small excerpt of an AP story as part of a larger story published on Drudge Retort. AP served a takedown notice claiming infringement of copyright law.

The repercussions of that action were felt far and wide and caused the AP to sorta, kinda back down off their “heavy handed” approaches.

Last week, Startup Nation served us with a takedown notice of sorts claiming that the excerpt used on Steve’s 6 Steps to Successful Small Business PR was illegally used when the reality was clearly fair use and included a link to the original Startup Nation story. We declined to take down the excerpt but did correct the omission of

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That’s one business tactic to prevent infringement of intellectual property rights. Most larger blogs respect copyright and trademark laws and make every effort to follow good practice, as we do here. Most larger blogs recognize the hard work that goes into creating content and wish our own IP rights to be protected and respect that line with others. It’s not an issue with us.

The New York Times has taken a completely different approach to business and intellectual property rights. Instead of assuming an antiquated approach to content preservation, they have flung the doors wide open almost begging people to use their content. See, the Times has figured out the magic rule of distributed authority where, regardless of content consumption, the authority always trickles back to them.

This is a winning strategy in an increasingly open world with data exchange being valued highly.

According to the Programmable Web story, not only has the Times invited people to use their content – for free – but they have created a robust API for doing so. Developers love APIs and no better way to make people want to use that content but to make the API fun by producing data in lots of formats, including my favorite, JSON.

End of the day, the Times will win the battle of business openness, if only in principle. They are making data easy to access, fun to access and useful to access. Winning Recipe.

From Hell to Heaven?

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Remember Dell Hell? Jeff Jarvis used the BuzzMachine to slam Dell for his horrific customer experience buying a laptop two years ago. This series of posts epitomized growing dissent against the company, and served as a channel to punish the Texas computer maker for bad products and customer service experiences.

A lot has changed since then:

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The Dell community has become a strong one. The company has listened to us, and participated transparently, honestly and openly — going so far as to put one of its exploded laptops on its blog to admit, yes, there is a problem (caused by the battery manufacturer). They even let us tell them what to do on IdeaStorm.

The company has done a lot to turn its brand around. And it is working. Is Dell perfect? No. I think their social media pros Lionel and Richard would be the first ones to tell you that. But they are part of the conversation, and they are actively serving the community. We actually do have a direct and very open line to Dell.

The result? Much better relationships throughout the social media world. And the leading voice of computer manufacturers in social media environments. Goodwill is abound for Dell these days, and rare is the mention of Dell Hell. Some competitors are opening up and blogging.

The take away for us as individuals trying to maintain our brands is that by listening, changing and participating we can survive bad experiences out here in the social media world. But the key is to listen (are you reading this, Scoble?), let people comment and provide input, and then create products, posts etc. I think that’s really been they key to Dell’s brand turnaround success. Coke had a similar experience as it went from indigestion on Mentos (bad) to Virtual Thirst in Second Life (good).

Tomorrow , Jarvis is expected to report on Dell, and discuss the progress they’ve made. While no one knows what the report will say, it is conceivable that Dell has literally gone from Hell to Heaven. Regardless, they’ve provided a powerful example of listening and change.

Updated, 10/18 at 6:50 p.m.

The story broke, and Jarvis did indeed say that Dell has repaired its tarnished image. Read the BusinessWeek article on Dell learning to listen.