The articles will now contain a beacon that will enable the AP to easily know when another site has reposted stories via an RSS feed or other automated mechanism.
But the beacon won't in itself alert the AP to bloggers who rewrite stories or manually input portions of them into another site -- even though that activity has spurred two well-known disputes: The AP's lawsuit against All Headline News for misappropriating "hot news," and the wire service's demand that the blogger behind the liberal Drudge Retort (a response to the Drudge Report) stop excerpting articles.
The AP's move comes as some industry observers are blaming bloggers for the host of economic woes news organizations are now facing.
It's no secret that newspapers have seen ad revenue plummet in the last decade. Classifieds revenue alone has fallen by around $10 billion -- with much of those dollars migrating to Craigslist and other free listings sites.
But why place responsibility on bloggers for the revenue drop? Craigslist certainly isn't aggregating news articles or even summarizing and linking to them.
Yes, some sites out there appear to repost newspaper articles in their entirety, but it's not clear that those sites are raking in ad dollars that would otherwise go to papers.
And while critics like talking about digital "parasites," there's little evidence that newspapers would be better off -- financially or otherwise -- without the blogosphere.
Sure, some bloggers summarize or excerpt news stories -- but they also include links to newspapers, driving traffic back to them. Plus, many bloggers break new stories, or offer new insights, which mainstream news organizations then draw on in follow-up articles.
While links from bloggers would seem to help newspapers by gaining them more ad eyeballs, some observers have gone so far as to propose new laws banning linking without newspapers' consent.
News organizations are rightly worried about their economic situation. But even if every blogger stopped linking to mainstream news sites tomorrow, the fact remains that advertisers who want to reach local audiences no longer need to rely on newspapers. Newspapers need to figure out how to cope with that fact rather than spend their energy attempting to wall off content.