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AP gets tough on content reproduction

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday April 8, 2009 )

As old media continues to suffer an often undignified demise, one of the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organizations is about to come out swinging against content theft.

The Associated Press Board of Directors has announced it would launch an industry initiative to protect news content from unauthorized reproduction online. AP will work with properly licensed portals and other partners; but will pursue legal and legislative actions against those who don‘t.

To help keep tabs on where their content is ending up, AP will develop a system to track content distributed online.

One of the motivations behind the new drive to stamp out unauthorized reproduction *may* be related to another announcement made in the same press release. Associated Press also said it would be delivering significant rate reductions for member newspapers that will knock $35 million off their revenues in 2010. Companies such as AP don’t have the stranglehold they once did over news and it’s obviously having an effect.

Given this development, web site publishers need to be very careful about quoting from AP news items in how much they do quote or rewrite from an Associated Press sourced piece. There’s no indication yet as to how much is too much and even given fair use laws; having AP’s lawyers chasing you wouldn’t be a pleasant thing.

Companies such as Google feel they are in clear as, according to this Wall Street Journal piece, they only publish part of each story and that users who want the full story are directed to the publisher’s Web site.

Unauthorized content reproduction and plagiarism is a headache for anyone who publishes original content; but I’m hoping that the AP will be a bit level headed about it all; frivolous suits do nobody any good.


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