A major news organization has begun a strategic consideration of its online role, in terms of copyright and how users use content. The Associated Press (AP) board announced a series of moves during its annual conference. These moves include:
- New negotiations with news aggregators. This includes “pursu[ing] legal and legislative actions against those who don‘t” follow AP’s new licensing system.
- New content tracking operations.
- A new AP portal or other Web gateway: “the development of new search pages that point users to the latest and most authoritative sources of breaking news.”
- Reducing some fees.
AP’s CEO also took aim at fair use as a legal defense for using content: “We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories.”
The AP’s stance remains focused on print, rather than digital format, at least in this interview:
I think print’s going to be important for a long time. … Print is still the meat. Online’s the salt and pepper. [emphasis in original]
However, the New York Times and others see the new strategy as focused on internet issues:
A.P. executives said they were concerned about a variety of news forums around the Web, including major search engines like Google and Yahoo and aggregators like the Drudge Report that link to news articles, smaller sites that sometimes reproduce articles whole, and companies that sell packaged news feeds.
At least one AP executive agrees, noting that Google’s AP licensing is due to expire at the end of 2009. This may then be the opening salvo in AP-Google negotiations. Google’s intellectual property lead argues that that company’s work won’t be affected, partly because of licensing agreements dating back to 2007, and because Google tools increase AP readership. (for example, this Google-hosted version of the AP press release)