Giving the keynote speech at the Online Publishers' Association conference today, Reuters CEO Tom Glocer hinted that the company is relaxing enforcement of its copyright terms as it acknowledges the value of blog debate.

"We like to encourage bloggers to take our RSS feed content and start a conversation around it," he told delegates.

"So if a blogger copies and pastes one of our stories on their site, you won't find us going after them."

Jeff Jarvis asked how news organisations can become part of the media mix without losing control.

Mr Glocer said that Reuters does support the copyright of its own work, but that a "reasonably established standard" had developed in the US that determined how much of someone else's content you can use "before you start taking advantage of someone else's intellectual property".

However, he did warn that the re-appropriation of too much content might "damage the underlying brand".

"Individual creators should have the right to choose how much of their own stuff to make available," he said.

Bloggers in context

Media-savvy consumers are using digital technology to express themselves and to stand out as individuals within their own communities, he said.

He referred to the common thread of diarists such as Virginia Woolf, F Scott Fitzgerald and even Bridget Jones in literary history and said that future generations will turn to bloggers to decipher the events of today.

The fanzines of the 80s, which were seen as a threat to magazine publishing at the time, produced the future editors of magazines such as GQ. The same will happen with the current citizen media revolution; in fact it has already happened with Iraqi blogger Salam Pax whose work is now available in paperback.

Bloggers had an influential role during the 2004 Presidential election, said Mr Glocer, citing research by Pew that found 9 per cent of web users were reading blogs frequently or sometimes during the campaign.

"The influence of blogs extended beyond their viewership and bloggers became the story."

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