Friday, July 24, 2009

Associated Press (AP, A.P.) to Require Licensing Agreements for News and Headlines : Thomson Reuters & OpenCalais New Content Economy

We posted previously at LawPundit about the Commercial Use of Newspaper Headlines Without Permission [as] Copyright Infringement in Japan. There is little doubt under the world's copyright laws that the same standard applies in other countries as well.

TeachingMedia writes:

"What are the pressures on news organizations today; how is news made and who makes it; what is the function of a gatekeeper of news; how is news received and understood?"

Let's be frank. It is a rare website or blog that "makes" original news. For that, the resources available to websites and blogs are simply too small. Almost all bloggers are accessories to the news, functioning as pundits who comment on basic news events sourced elsewhere - with exceptions of course.

A syndicated RSS feed from a blog is however no different than a syndicated newspaper column, except that a blog will generally use "news" material produced by news organizations as the basis for its commentary, rather than vice versa.

The fact is that the bulk of the "real" news is made by journalism professionals, i.e. the journalistic "big boys", like the AP or Reuters (now part of Thomson Reuters, the world's world's largest international multimedia news agency).

The Association Press ("AP", "A.P") is by several standards of measure the largest news organization in the world, operating as "a not-for-profit cooperative with more than 4,000 employees working in more than 240 worldwide bureaus [and] owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members."

According to Richard Perez-Pena in his July 23, 2009 article at the New York Times, the A.P. Cracks Down on Unpaid Use of Articles on Web, the Associated Press is no longer going to stand idly by and let its work be used for commercial purposes by others without just compensation. As Perez-Pena writes:

"Taking a new hard line that news articles should not turn up on search engines and Web sites without permission, The Associated Press said Thursday that it would add software to each article that shows what limits apply to the rights to use it, and that notifies The A.P. about how the article is used."

We agree with the newly declared A.P. policy - which will only minimally affect normal non-profit blogs, who generally will not require a license to quote AP materials - but that policy will demand licenses (and payments) from those using their headlines and news reports commercially.

The salaries for the AP news staff and for the infrastructure that supports them has to be funded somehow and their work must be paid.

Thomson Reuters has taken a somewhat different approach in its attitude to content syndication with its support of OpenCalais where it is written that "Calais is a rapidly growing toolkit of capabilities that allow you to readily incorporate state-of-the-art semantic functionality within your blog, content management system, website or application." Take a look.

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