We have always taken the view that the publishers who use Exact Editions to provide access to the magazines on our platform, own the subscription lists that accrue through the process of selling subs. As far as we are concerned they also own the aggregate usage date which we carefully collect and supply for them through a stats account. In our production process we enhance the PDFs which are our source documents, and so far as ownership goes they also own these improved PDFs. [The PDFs are only enhanced by us so that we can build a better database, we do not of course use the PDFs in a delivery mode].
These are valuable assets, and I sometimes wonder whether our policy in not claiming any ownership over these intangibles is altogether prudent. Its possible, that if our company was part-owned by a VC we would have been required to take a more aggressive view of our own contribution. Would there be a case for asserting part ownership? Maybe, but on the whole, and with the benefit of reflection, emphatically NO.
Our position is right on this. Quixotic perhaps, naive I concede, but right and strong. Exact Editions does have some important intellectual assets, but claiming any proprietary stake in the copyrights of the publications or the subscriber lists which attach to publications sold on susbcription, is not one of them. Our position is stronger precisely because our process enhances the value of what the publishers are doing, and that is the way we intend to keep things.
Call this a hostage to fortune if you will. But we think of it as a basis for collaboration.