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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Hands off our news says Associated Press


The IPKat has learned from the Financial Times that Associated Press is planning to crack down on sites which make unauthorised use of its members' content. The AP Chairman told the AP annual meeting

'We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more'.

He went on to say that AP would pursue 'legal and legislative remedies' against those making unauthorised use. AP also plans to develop new search pages for breaking news stories, and a rights management system.

The announcement takes place against a background of declining newspaper revenues.

The IPKat finds this troubling on a number of levels. Protecting news sounds a bit like protecting facts, which the UK doesn't like (though the US does have an action for the misapproriation of news). He's not sure about the 'misguided legal theories' - is this fair use? If so, what makes it misguided? Likewise, pursuing legal remedies is fair enough but pursuing legislative remedies sounds rather like not liking the law and therefore assuming that the legislator will change it for

5 comments:

Peter Groves said...

Is the "misguided legal theory" the one laid down in International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918) - which AP won?

Rupert Goodwins said...

All very similar to the music and film businesses, which have reacted to new distribution models with the assumption that the old ones have divine right on their side.

It's instructive to look at what the canal and coach companies did in the early 19th century when the railways got going. Years of pitched battles in and out of court, followed by capitulation. The smart ones switched sides, but only once they'd allowed everyone to make their first round of mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the "misguided legal theory" which is being referred to here is the old canard that copyright works which are "in the public domain" can be freely used.

Anonymous said...

Common law "hot news" misappropriation may be the greatest threat to the market place of ideas that we Americans have faced in the last forty years. Yes, the tort has remained on our books for what, almost a hundred years. But no one has successfully brought an action on hot news in the last, what, eighty years. I actually feel rather secure in the fact that the S.D.N.Y. will kill off the hot news tort once and for all.

Peter: A.P. may have "won" its suit against INS in 1918, but that's not how the decision is remembered. The opinion is taught in the U.S. as an example of judicial overreach because of its striking dissenting opinions by Justices Holmes and Brandeis -- arguably the two most influential American justices.

Anonymous said...

"New distribution model"? No, the model isn't new - theft has been around for a long time. By using AP's input, the new modellers are getting a zero-cost product and earning advertising revenue from it. Smart - unless AP stops producing on-line news. Then the new modellers will?? It's not a question of being smart or being new or being creative or being ethical. It's simply a question of common sense. The new models rely on AP being sustained and producing output which covers their own costs. AP has high costs and needs a return (or at the very least to cover costs). Ruin their source of revenue (advertisers who pay per viewer) and you ruin your own "model". This is really no different from the bankers who figured they could make a buck out of nothing and were too smug to see that there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

And to compare it to railways v coaches - that's just lazy thinking as this is in no way similar. There the railways had to invest in an alternative; they weren't sneaking on to the back of a coach and refusing to pay for the ride (which is the correct analogy).

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