A Win-Win Licensing Strategy in Digital Age
Taking Scientific American E-magazine as an Example

Jung-Wen Wang 王榮文
Chairman of Yuan-Liou Publishing Co.,Ltd
Chairman of Magazine Business Association of Taipei
November 13, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very glad to be here, as the Chairman of Magazine Business Association of Taipei and Publisher of Yuan-Liou Publishing Company, and enjoy the opportunity to share with you how publishers can overcome copyright problems in digital publishing. I will take the Scientific American Chinese edition in Taiwan as an example to show you how the coalition of YL and SA enhances each other's trademark with the supports of a solid contract and the ever-developing digital technology, and creates a win-win situation between the licensor and licensee.

As everyone knows, Scientific American, founded in 1845, is one of the best and most popular science magazines in the world, and has been translated into 18 different languages. YL was authorized and launched

SA Chinese edition in Taiwan in March 2002. SA Chinese edition includes the translation of all English articles of the latest issue and also articles by local scientists and reporters, to add a local touch to it.SA Chinese edition has attracted nearly 30,000 subscribers every year and has won the National Golden Tripod Awards(金鼎獎)successively in the past six years.

While preparing the publication of SA Chinese Paper Edition, YL was making plans for digital publishing at the same time. In September 2002, YL obtained the rights of using SA's English content to develop web-based bi-lingual database. In June 2003, YL brought out Scientific American English-Chinese database/ intranet & internet versions, to start the B2B market with universities, libraries, schools and corporations as institutional customers.

In 2006, YL began to develop koobe®. It is a digital distribution platform which can be read on PC with DRM, and is comparable with Zinio and Apabi in the field. Since October 2008, YL has distributed Scientific American e-magazine through koobe®.

In turning from paper publishing to digital publishing in the past six years, YL has completed a great amount of value-added work on its own. Why? It is because we have a sound contract with SA. The royalty fee is based on a set percentage of gross revenue. Simple and clear. Therefore, with mutual trust, the Licensee has the rights to recreate and meet the needs for localization. The global licensing strategy in digital age not only protects SA's trademark, but also encourages the licensee to be an innovator, and the outcome is beneficial to both parties.

YL has had also sound contracts with all the content providers. In digital publishing, the content providers own the copyright of the works, and YL owns the rights to publish and distribute in all possible forms, and the market is worldwide.

However, the distribution of Scientific American e-magazine brings up two licensing problems which have to be overcome.

First, the “territory” of the original contract for distributing paper edition covers only Taiwan. But there is no borderline on the internet, and naturally, the target readers of SA e-magazine are Chinese all over the globe.

Secondly, in digital publishing business, its customers come from every corner of the world, and whole earth is the “territory.” Moreover, the earnings are to be gathered from various business models, B2B, B2C, B2B2C or bundles for instance, so it is a task to audit the accounts.

Nevertheless, we have come up with certain feasible solutions to the problems.

As for the “territory” issue, we would like to suggest that the Licensor accept the change in the ways people lead their lives nowadays, and take off the limits of the “territory.” Or, from another perspective, the digital technology today (koobe®) already can accurately block out customers who are not within the “territory.” Either way will serve as a solution.

To our second problem, the solution also comes from technology. In fact, EC systems today are capable of showing in details that who, when and where the deals are taking place on the internet. Our suggested solutions may look straight and simple, but they are feasible at present and deserve our efforts and courage to try them out.

I believe, in the near future that most paper magazines, if not all, will gradually and surely to be distributed by digital platforms. Paper, as a carrier, will be replaced by PC, mobile phones, or any e-book readers.

In Taiwan there are 40,000 new titles and 10,000 magazines (including government & corporation in-house periodicals) published every year. They will all be distributed by digital platforms eventually. Therefore, to have friendly e-reading services with solid protection (DRM) and multi-functions is essential and necessary.

koobe® is an excellent solution to the PC reading environment, especially for the contents of complicated Chinese characters (正體中文).

The coalition of Scientific American e-magazine and koobe® sets a good model, and may inspire those who are interested in importing international materials and exporting domestic products.

Thank you for listening. 

For detailed information, please visit http://www.koobe.com.tw