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B2B Marketplace History Lesson: Copyright Clearance Center (CCC)

The Bowery Capital team is embarking on a ten week journey to cover B2B Marketplaces. We are doing deep dives on various companies, interviewing founders and investors, and learning what it takes to build success in the B2B Marketplace arena. Below is a part of our content series focused on learning from the prior generation of winners. This week we focus on content licensing marketplace Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). You can read all of the posts in our series by going here.

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) was founded in 1978 in Danvers, Massachusetts and initially aimed to serve the academic reprint market. Today, CCC acts as a global broker for content licensing and connects copyright owners, such as publishers and content creators, with academic and corporate buyers that wish to license their IP. The platform currently facilitates the licensing process for a wide range of content including books, images, videos, blogs, and academic journals, among other sources. CCC has created a seamless marketplace for content licensing and it generates revenue by taking a commission on the licensing agreements it helps transact.

CCC first launched with support from the academic publishing community which led to strong early adoption. However, the company has not been complacent in its position as a market leader, and it has continued to grow over the last four decades by innovating technologically and incorporating new value-added services to more smoothly facilitate transactions between content buyers and creators.

CCC launched its RightsLink for Permission product in 2001 in response to ongoing trends around digitization. Through RightsLink, content licensees were able to employ automated permission and reprint requests for content owned by dozens of publishing houses. This ultimately became a powerful transaction engine for the marketplace, and today this product serves almost 100,000 unique buyers each year who are drawn from corporations, publishers, academic institutions, and other content licensees. In 2015, CCC continued to innovate by launching RightFind XML for Mining, a product which aggregates articles in XML, normalizes the content, and can then license it out for legal use. In addition to RightFind XML, CCC has continued to add solutions around rights acquisition, rights management, and content management, including RightFind, RightFind Enterprise, and RightFind Document Delivery. These service offerings – coupled with the core licensing function of CCC – have significantly reduced friction around content licensing, thereby increasing customer retention and creating powerful network effects. CCC has also grown through acquisition, acquiring Pubget, a content analysis platform, in 2012, and buying Infotrieve, a global licensing and technology solution, in early 2020.

By continuing to innovate, CCC has been able to grow into a global company with subsidiaries across North America, Europe, and Asia. Today, CCC generates approximately $135MM in annual revenue and has been able to grow this number consistently at a roughly 5% CAGR. Looking forward, CCC is focusing on more advanced content management solutions and the company is working to adapt to the changing needs of publishers around content storage, agility, and discoverability.

CCC succeeded as a marketplace by focusing on the needs of content owners who wanted to monetize their IP in an easy and cost-effective manner. Another key takeaway from CCC’s history is the importance of building out end-to-end services that can more holistically facilitate the transaction process and maximize the value for marketplace participants; CCC has continued to launch new products that can solve the changing problems facing content creators and buyers, keeping them coming back to the platform for their licensing needs.

If you liked “B2B Marketplace History Lesson: Copyright Clearance Center (CCC)” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. Look out for more content on B2B Marketplaces from us in the coming weeks.

Michael Brown
Michael Brown
Michael is a Founder & Managing Partner at Bowery Capital based in New York. Prior to Bowery Capital, Brown was a Co-Founder and General Partner at AOL Ventures. Before AOL Ventures, Brown worked for the investment arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. He began his career at Morgan Stanley as an equity research analyst. Outside of his professional life, Brown serves on the Board of Directors of the National Forest Foundation and the Columbia College Alumni Association. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University.