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August 5, 2009

Associated Press excerpts may cost $2.50 per word

Posted: 05:09 PM ET

In an attempt to generate new revenue, the Associated Press has partnered with iCopyright to charge licensing fees for quotes as short as five words.

Quoting 5 words from an Associated Press story may cost $12.50.

Quoting 5 words from an Associated Press story costs $12.50.

When linking to articles, news aggregators and bloggers commonly include excerpts to provoke discussion.

I understand the AP's desire to protect its content, but the decision to charge for excerpts that include links to its articles has me scratching my head. Without outside links to generate interest and drive traffic, what will happen to AP content online?

Ben Parr from Mashable weighs in:

The company’s complaint is that blogs and news aggregators (i.e. Google News) are taking its content and making all the advertising revenue. What they forget is that they provide a great deal of traffic and attention to content creators in the process.

Under the AP's licensing system, I would owe Mashable $25 for that quote. But more likely, I would have ignored Parr's article altogether to avoid paying a fee, and Mashable would have lost traffic.

In a statement released Monday, the Associated Press claims the licensing "form is not aimed at bloggers. It is intended to make it easy for people who want to license AP content to do so."

Bloggers may not be the primary targets, but vague licensing terms leave open the frightening prospect of legal action against anyone who quotes an AP article.

Executives at the AP are shooting themselves in the foot with this decision. Bloggers and aggregators are the best source of free advertising, and the traffic they generate is worth much more than $2.50 per word.

And you can quote me on that.

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Filed under: Internet • online news • technology

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JJ   August 5th, 2009 9:53 pm ET

Associated Press seems to think that cash grows like weeds, and coins fall like rain... Where will this stop? Will the AP, put a censor machine on us, if we say a quote in public, and can not pay for it?

TJay   August 5th, 2009 11:09 pm ET

That argument sure sounds familiar but the truth is that blogs and news aggregators provide little if any traffic to the main source and instead end up reaping the benefits of ripping off content through increased traffic to their own site and advertising revenue.

Write your own damn content and quit stealing from others. Just because it is on the net doesn't mean that it's free.

Eric   August 6th, 2009 2:16 am ET

The AP finally wants to cash in on all those internet dollars huh? Didn't Canada try to do the same thing in an episode of Southpark? How did that turn out for em?

dfwmom   August 6th, 2009 7:42 am ET

"Fair Use" is still a part of copyright law. The AP can't change the law by publishing a new rate schedule. However, maybe we should grant it's wish and stop quoting their articles, and linking to them, and talking about them.

There may be more to this than meets the eye. Some very powerful people have a great deal of power over the AP and major media outlets, and they would very much like to put the chill on blogs, which sometimes highlight small bits of news that many people would like to bury. He who controls the information, controls the world.

Joe Smith   August 6th, 2009 7:58 am ET

As noted on Slashdot: (2009/08/03) AP Will Sell You a "License" To Words It Doesn't Own.
Used 26 words written by Thomas Jefferson 196 years ago: If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea. The AP cheerfully charged him $12 to use Jefferson's 26 words.

Russell   August 6th, 2009 11:35 am ET

We are officially the greediest people on the planet

John   August 6th, 2009 11:39 am ET

This is just plain stupid how greedy are people going to get in the US? I have an idea I'm going to start charging people for every one of my posts that someone reads no matter what it's on facebook, twitter, myspace, blog sites, message boards, news sites, and any IM service that I may use, I'll make millions... or people just won't read what I wrote.

Lizz Wilson   August 6th, 2009 11:51 am ET

This was all predicted about five years ago in a hypothetically "historical" flash movie called "Epic 2014" which follows the supposed "merger" of Google and Amazon. However, with tools like Twitter, Facebook, iPhone, etc. this is sounding eerily familiar. So if you think it can't happen, read the following excerpt:

"The News Wars of 2010 are notable for the fact that no actual news organizations take part.

"Googlezon finally checkmates Microsoft with features the software giant cannot match. Using a new algorithm, Googlezon’s computers construct news stories dynamically, stripping sentences and facts from all content sources and recombining them. The computer writes a news story for every user.

"In 2011, the slumbering Fourth Estate awakes to make its first and final stand. The New York Times Company sues Googlezon, claiming that the company’s fact-stripping robots are a violation of copyright law. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which on August 4, 2011 decides in favour of Googlezon.

"On Sunday, March 9 2014, Googlezon unleashes EPIC.

"Welcome to our world.

"The ‘Evolving Personalized Information Construct’ is the system by which our sprawling, chaotic mediascape is filtered, ordered and delivered. Everyone contributes now – from blog entries, to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations. Many people get paid too – a tiny cut of Googlezon’s immense advertising revenue, proportional to the popularity of their contributions.

"EPIC produces a custom contents package for each user, using his choices, his consumption habits, his interests, his demographics, his social network – to shape the product.

"A new generation of freelance editors has sprung up, people who sell their ability to connect, filter and prioritize the contents of EPIC.

"We all subscribe to many Editors; EPIC allows us to mix and match their choices however we like. At its best, edited for the savviest readers, EPIC is a summary of the world – deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before. " – EPIC 2014

Constitutional Insurgent   August 6th, 2009 12:45 pm ET

Well, it's a state run news agency, what do you expect? The federal government wants to charge us extra for everything...

Lizz Wilson   August 6th, 2009 1:10 pm ET

Here's a link. The most recent version is actually called "Epic 2015".

Kerry   August 6th, 2009 5:02 pm ET


Correction – Just because it's on the net DOES mean it's free! Free from royalties so long as you give credit and don't plagarize.

Isn't the WHOLE point of the press to report facts and quote people when necessary? So every time the AP quotes Obama, do they owe him $0.50 per word? And if I quote them quoting him, do I owe them, him, or no one since the debt was paid on the original quote? See how stupid this is?

When it comes to blogs, just about anything can be published WITHOUT paying anything. Good luck sicking your legal dogs on thousands or millions of supposed offenders. If you want revenue, try the subscription approach (and see how long your business lasts Mr. Murdoch).

David Lewis   August 7th, 2009 7:39 am ET

Is the AP willing to pay $2.50 for every word it quotes in its reports? I dobut it. Don't create a standard you cannot live up to yourself.

Chuck   August 7th, 2009 9:49 am ET

Although I think the fees are a bit high, it's a good way to get journalists back to writing their own articles(unless they are still too lazy and would rather pay). Too many times have I gone to the "news" websites and read the same article word for word from the AP. I want different points of view when I read from or it's online competitors. If it's just going to be same story cut and pasted, I'll just go to to AP and ignore the other outlets who are using the AP for their own news source rather than coming up with a creative article on their own..

Charlene   August 9th, 2009 6:58 am ET

Let them do what they want to do. Aggregators are just going to go elsewhere to get their information - even if may eventually mean going to foreign presses and sources.

Mike ODonnell, CEO, iCopyright   August 10th, 2009 2:42 pm ET

By way of background, the Excerpt License via iCopyright was developed at the request of corp users who wished to excerpt portions of an article for reprinting, posting and use in PowerPoint presentations. These users did not want to include parts of the article that mentioned their competitors, or were otherwise irrelevant for their purposes.

It is also important to note that iCopyright does not choose the services, the terms, or the prices of any of the licenses that its system processes for publishers. If publishers decide to offer an Excerpt License, they choose the terms and prices of that license (incl how many words may be excerpted, the min and max). They own the content, not iCopyright. In the same way that PayPal has no control over the value or terms of an item that is purchased through its gateway, iCopyright has no control over the value and terms of a piece of content licensed through its gateway.

It is a fundamental principle of iCopyright to be agnostic with respect to the content our service is used on and the rules the owner has associated with the reuse of that content. iCopyright is a technology. It does not set copyright guidelines. It does not enforce copyright. It simply makes it possible for people to easily use and share content under the rules set up by the owners.

Steven   August 10th, 2009 4:02 pm ET

At least they had a good run while it lasted. lol! Bye bye AP.

Harrison Ward   May 9th, 2010 2:49 pm ET

Southpark is quite funny but some of the scenes maybe a bit too morbid even for adults.-~;

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So, the GOVERNMENT can strip search you at airports, take naked pictures of you, limit your rights, but dont you dare try and modify and XBOX.

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