Thursday, April 09, 2009

Analog business models don't work anymore in a digital world!
AP To Aggregators: We Will Sue You
By John C. Abell
April 06, 2009
The Associated Press board voted Monday to "pursue legal and legislative actions" against aggregators who use content without permission, a new shot across the bow of internet news sites in the war over how little use is "fair use."

The AP named no potential targets, yet speculation immediately turned to Google. While the search giant pays the AP to host full versions of wire service stories, it generally does not have contracts with AP member newspapers whose headlines it also aggregates on its news portal. The AP has also made no bones about pursuing individual bloggers, as it did the Drudge Retort last June.

Part of the initiative will be to "develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used" and new AP-controlled search pages.

As newspaper continue to founder and fail, the clear benefit of Google especially — to direct hordes of traffic back to the original site — is increasingly blurred by the anger and envy of newspaper executives over Google's ability to monetize aggregation at all while paying nothing towards content creation.

It has become virtually a populist notion among many in the industry that aggregators who scrape a headline and a paragraph are taking something of value, if not outright stealing, and not operating under a fair use exception even if they drive traffic to the source.

"We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories," AP Chairman Dean Singleton said at the AP annual meeting in San Diego.

In recent days the rhetoric against Google has reached new levels, with News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch saying: "The question is, should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright ... not steal, but take. Not just them, but Yahoo."

The AP has already sued aggregators. It filed suit against All Headline News in Jaunary, 2008, alleging that AHN was "simply a vehicle for copying news reports and misappropriating news gathered and reported by real news services such as AP." The case is pending.

In June of 2008 it told The Drudge Retort to remove seven headlines and story briefs from its site but settled the matter after a fierce backlash from bloggers and even (member paper) the Los Angeles Times, which called them "clueless."

In a twist of fate Google CEO Eric Schmidt will deliver a keynote Tuesday at the National Association of America's convention, where the AP board took today's decision. It will be streamed live at 10 a.m. PST at


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