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Playboy Digital Archive
Old 02-09-2007, 12:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Wall Street Journal

Playboy Archives Go Digital; That Means Its Articles, Too (subscription required)

For those that want to see the entire article, please send me a message with your email. I will use WSJ's Email This feature to send you a link allowing you access.

In 1953, Hugh Hefner bought a nude picture of Marilyn Monroe from a local Chicago calendar company and published the first issue of Playboy. The magazine took erotica out of the back alleys and placed it in a stylized package, helping to usher in the sexual revolution -- which quickly left the publication behind.

Today, Playboy, in an attempt to get back in step with the present, is unveiling plans to make its entire text and photo archive available digitally.

The new venture will allow consumers to peruse Playboy's articles and photos on DVD. All 636 issues of the monthly will be rendered page-by-page on six discs -- one for each decade. The first two discs will hit stores in October. Each disc will retail for $100, is meant to be viewed on a computer screen and will be accompanied by a 200-page book.


Converting the magazine requires painstakingly scanning 115,880 pages of Playboy magazines and then doing a "text-conversion process," which involves manually typing all the text on the page. Bondi is using two typists per page to copy the text into a database to improve accuracy. Then, Bondi will break each page down into its elements: cartoons, editorial content, advertising, photos and captions.

Playboy feels that by duplicating the magazine exactly as it existed, complete with ads and in the same format as they appeared on the pages of the magazine, that they don't need to seek additional rights from writers or artists featured in its pages. It's a loophole the New Yorker exploited as well for its project.

The tactic has drawn scrutiny from some writers' groups. "In this case, I'd have to take a very hard look to see where this goes in the context of commercial advantage," says Gerard Colby, president of the National Writers Union, the nation's only trade union dedicated to freelance writers. "Even if this does fall within the Supreme Court's parameters of allowed reproduction, we'd still want to take a look at this whole issue of remuneration for writers if the publisher is taking commercial advantage."
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