Monday, April 6, 2009

A.P. vs. Web Aggregators

From the New York Times:
The Associated Press said on Monday that it will demand that Web sites obtain permission to use the work of The A.P. or its member newspapers, and share revenue with the news organizations, and that it will take legal action those that do not.

Associated Press executives said the policy was aimed at major search engines like Google, Yahoo and their competitors, and also at news aggregators like the Huffington Post, as well as companies that sell packaged news services. They said they do not want to stop the appearance of articles around the Web, but to exercise some control over it and to profit from it. The A.P. also said it is developing a system to track news articles online and determine whether they were used legally.
I'm confused: Are they talking about Google News or the Google search engine? Are they saying the snippets in Google News, HuffPo, and Yahoo News infringe A.P.'s copyright?

And this sounds interesting...
One goal of The A.P. and its members, [Sue Cross, VP of A.P.] said, is to make sure that the top search engine results for news are “the original source or the most authoritative source,” not a site that copied or paraphrased the work of news organization.
I see two ways to read that. Either she thinks Google and Yahoo should be the top-level news producers, or she thinks the news aggregators should modify their indexing algorithms to somehow favor the "news origination" site. I think that means she wants Google News, for example, to be able to somehow identify which news organization (e.g. NYT, WaPo, Podunk Daily News, etc.) originally broke the story and give precedence to their online article. The news aggros might not mind doing that, but does the A.P. even know which organization broke the story, and do they have the source URL? I'm guessing not.

Or is she saying Google's main search engine should weight source organization url's? If so she's crazy. Search engines by definition are site agnostic: a web site is a web site.

Meanwhile, aren't these source organizations already getting paid? Don't you have to pay A.P. to print or post any article? And as part of the deal, don't you have to print the byline? So people already know where the article came from, and can either link through to the source or search for it in (you guessed it) Google?

Alright, I'm still confused.