Last summer the Associated Press had a showdown with bloggers. The AP released its own rules about how bloggers are allowed to use content written by the AP. Bloggers fought back. TechCrunch initiated a boycott.
In the end, the AP made nice and decided to draft some guidelines that they strongly encouraged bloggers to abide by. Then the housing market bubble burst. Banks began to fail. A presidential election and a failing economy took center stage.
Now, as we pick up the pieces of the last nine months, the AP wants to remind us that they are still not satisfied.
A Policed State
The Associated Press has announced that it will begin to police the Web and “develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used.” Perhaps in an effort to be the Rahm Emmanuel of the newspaper industry, the AP will begin threatening lawsuits if others don’t stop using their content. Because that's what's hurting newspapers?
From entire articles copied into blogs, to the unauthorized use of headlines, the AP has chosen again to interpret differently, or ignore completely, the concept of fair use.
Though they have already begun taking names. In January 2008, it filed suit against All Headline News 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.
They have tasked themselves with developing "a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used" and new AP-controlled search pages.
Going After Google
From the peanut gallery, it looks like the AP is taking its frustration with the newspaper industry out on Google, among others for their successful monetization of news aggregation. Google is on the fence. In a recent blog post, they reminded readers -- and perhaps the AP -- that they have a partnership with the AP. Formed back in 2007, they agreed to pay news agencies, like the AP to display the entire text of articles.
So what does this mean exactly?
No one can be sure. Maybe Google will take the AP seriously or maybe they will flex their web muscles. The AP clearly regards the fair use policy as "misguided legal theories" and is confident that they are the victim of copyright infringement.
By continuing to develop their conspiracy theories, one thing is for sure: the AP will only further demean the newspaper industry with their petty complaints, rather than trying to capitalize on the changing face of online news media.