Free online lectures by Academic Earth

Academic Earth is in talks with universities about promoting web-based lectures, while some campuses hesitate. A for-profit web site bases its business model on mining the Internet for and then posting publicly available lectures from prestigious universities. The officials from at least one campus are reviewing the arrangement and reserving judgment. Academic Earth, which launched in January, has more than 1,600 web-based video lectures from campuses nationwide, including Yale, Stanford, and MIT. Richard Ludlow, CEO of Academic Earth, said the site only uses videos posted under the Creative Commons license, which allows for-profit business to use the lectures, but not for commercial reasons.

Ludlow, who visited with MIT officials last week, said the videos would not be monetized unless university officials agreed to incorporate advertisements with the lectures. In those cases, revenues would be shared with the school. He said Academic Earth would seek further face-to-face meetings with more universities in the coming weeks. Establishing a for-profit web site, Ludlow said, would be the only way to spread the collective wealth of university lectures and other videos to students worldwide. 'We want to have a sustainable model, so we are for-profit,' said Ludlow, 23, a 2007 Yale graduate, adding that the site had 100,000 visitors in its first 16 days. 'We wanted something that could not just produce something once and run out, but be an engine for growth and continue.' Academic Earth will monetize videos from other sources outside universities that post their content, said Ludlow.

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