AP Plans Beacon To Track Its Stories Across The Web
"What we are building here is a way for good journalism to survive and thrive," Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board of directors, said in a statement. "The AP news registry will allow our industry to protect its content online."
The new system will place a beacon in digital stories, which will alert the wire service to any automated use of its material by other publishers. The stories will also carry metadata including bylines, datelines and usage rights -- such as how long a story can remain online before being archived.
Jane Seagrave, senior vice president for global product development, says the new system will enable the AP to affirm its rights. "Our ultimate goal isn't to say, 'You stop, you stop,' but to empower people to use things in ways we think are OK," she says. "Of course," she adds, "we would enforce against people who don't abide by that."
The AP said in a statement that the registry will use a "microformat" that "will essentially encapsulate AP and member content in an informational 'wrapper' that includes a digital permissions framework that lets publishers specify how their content is to be used online and which also supplies the critical information needed to track and monitor its usage."
The AP intends to roll out the system by November. The company will start by tagging text stories, but will eventually also tag photos and videos.
While the new registry will make it easier to target blogs that distribute content through automated systems, it will not alert the AP when others manually rewrite stories or excerpt passages.
The AP recently settled a high-profile lawsuit with All Headline News over that company's history of rewriting news stories. All Headline News recently agreed to pay damages for allegedly misappropriating AP content.
The AP also famously criticized the liberal Drudge Retort (a counter to the right-wing Drudge Report) for excerpting brief passages and quotes from AP articles. That dispute was eventually resolved without litigation.
Bloggers and other publishers have argued that they don't need licenses to excerpt passages from news articles because doing so is often considered a "fair use" of copyrighted material.