Peter Kafka

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The Atlantic Launches a Video Aggregator With a Twist

The Atlantic, which added a photo section to its brainy Web site earlier this year, has taken the next logical step: A digital nook dedicated to moving pictures.

The site’s new section joins many other sites’ video verticals which bring you clips from around the Web. But unlike some competitors — see: Gawker, Mediaite and others — the Atlantic is taking a relatively old-fashioned approach to aggregation: It’s asking permission from copyright owners to run their stuff.

TheAtlantic.com edit boss Bob Cohn says his site will get a signed licensing agreement from every owner whose stuff gets featured on TheAtlantic.com’s proprietary video player. (The Atlantic will also feature clips from other sites using their own embeddable players — in those cases, it won’t need to ask for permission.)

That doesn’t mean video makers will get paid — compensation will come in the form of links — but the olde-timey practice highlights the different tack the site is taking here. If you want clips of TV news readers saying embarrassing things, or media magnates getting a pie to the face, there are plenty of places to get those. The Atlantic will instead focus on higher-brow, higher-minded stuff that you probably haven’t seen.

Atlantic editor Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, a former producer at Current TV who Cohn describes as “an embed in the video-generating community,” is in charge of picking the stuff and will also interview some of the creators.

Here’s a sample of what she’s looking for: An excerpt from “California is a Place,” a slice-o-life documentary series:

Aquadettes from California is a place on Vimeo.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work