Sunday, July 26, 2009

The World According to Associated Press

The Associated Press is to create a news registry to protect their online content from copyright violations. The organization has already issued and then backed down on DMCA take down notices to bloggers who had linked to the AP, used their headlines or paraphrased AP stories.

AP’s proposed new registry, will attached AP content to a digital-permissions framework which will be actively monitored. Today each article and in the future, each picture and video, would have a digital “wrapper,” data invisible to the consumer. The software would also send signals back to AP, letting it track use of the article across the Web. Created and managed the Media Standards Trust, the new system allows the organization to gain proof of what it defines as violations in order to enforce its copyright policies.

Some see it as an attempt to lock up the news, others a rewriting of 'fair use' by the back door.

The New York Times reported Mr Curley, AP’s president and CEO, “If someone can build multibillion-dollar businesses out of keywords, we can build multihundred-million businesses out of headlines, and we’re going to do that,” The goal, he said, was not to have less use of the news articles, but to be paid for any use. Search engines and news aggregators contend that their brief article citations fall under the legal principle of fair use.

News aggregators like such as Google News have licensing agreements with AP for the use of its material but not for general Internet searches that turn up news articles. Is the right to link to articles using a brief snippet of extract from that article, or the original headline on the article now fair use or subject to payment to AP?

At a time when the Newspaper industry is clearly struggling this would appear a classic ‘finger in the Dyke’ and draconian approach. Read this interest article, 'NYT Co.’s top lawyer doubts that aggregation is a copyright issue' and discover some of the potential legal issues and a transcript of an interview with NYT’s legal council.

Update Comment received from Matthew Cain, Media Standards Trust

I saw your blogpost regarding AP's recent announcement and wanted to clarify a couple of things.

The AP news registry and tracking features were not "created and managed by the Media Standards Trust". Instead, the Media Standards Trust, working with Sir Tim Berners Lee's WSRI, have created an open source draft news microformat (road signs, if you will) for readers to identify the key attributes of a news article. Far from being invisible to readers, this appears as a box at the end of an article and helps the reader distinguish news from PR and identify things such as:
* who wrote the story
* the location of the story
* any principles under which it was written

More information is available here:

AP have developed additional set of features which helps them monitor and track articles. The Media Standards Trust has no involvement with this.

I would be grateful if you could amend your post accordingly.

1 comment:

Stop Common Purpose said...

You can find out more about the Media Standards Trust here