IQ News: Comedy Central Gets Serious About South Park Copyrights

Parable, a Newton, Mass.-based multimedia software company, will today announce a deal with Comedy Central that demonstrates content providers can have some control over how their properties are used online. The company will also announce that it has signed search engine Lycos as a distribution outlet.
Through its alliance with Comedy Central, which will first focus on the hugely popular South Park cartoon series, Parable is making and distributing what it calls South Park “Things”–copyrighted, multimedia images of the characters which can be collected for use off- and online. Comedy Central and Parable envision that these official representations of characters will be used by fans of the series on the thousands of Web sites devoted to South Park.
The deal will help Comedy Central continue to promote the series online; each Thing is embedded with the Comedy Central URL and will contain ads for the TV show. It will also help the network protect the South Park franchise. As personal publishing on the Internet has increased, companies that own popular brands have had difficulty controlling how they are used online.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to use the technology to actively enforce our copyright without shutting fan sites down,” said Beth Lewand, senior producer, Comedy Central Online.
Parable has also been building an archive of official, online animated Things for a number of properties, including the New England Patriots, the Boston Red Sox, the Hasbro computer game Frogger and Jones Soda. The company plans to expand its roster of multimedia collectibles to cover any sort of brand.
Although Parable has been seen primarily as a software company, the firm has set its eyes on licensing. “Our business is expanding beyond tools,” said Steve Barlow, chairman and chief technology officer of Parable. “We’re aggregating brands and distributing them to portals.”
With the Lycos deal, the search service becomes the first syndication partner for ThingSearch, a searchable database of Thing images.