From time to time you hear stories of individual blogs getting sued for copyright infringement. Often it has to do with snagging copyrighted pictures, whereas sometimes sites get into trouble for lifting whole articles. A new startup wants to create a formal marketplace to allow blogs to, say, republish an AP article
, as a newspaper would. Basically, the blog could post the article for free, while agreeing to split revenue with the AP (there are other publishers currently in the system as well), with a cut going to the company brokering the transaction. It's not clear, however, who is really going to use this. For one thing, it's not going to stop people from copying articles and running some different advertising system against the content. Furthermore, there aren't many blogs that are going to run garden-variety AP articles for any reason. Most sites are content to take a few snippets from an article and then surround it in their own commentary, something that's clearly within their fair use rights. Or they can just link to the article, something that's much easier than joining a service (although watch out if media companies get the idea that a system like this is the only legitimate way to use their content, and that linking to stories should be forbidden).
The most likely result, we're guessing, will be the growth of splog-like sites that run only AP articles, in an attempt to generate some ongoing revenue from searches that stumble onto the site. Some will be true splogs (generated automatically), while others will be small-time de facto splogs, run by individuals thinking that they can make a few bucks by posting AP articles. The big flaw here is that it's counter to the whole idea of blogs to have newswires and article sharing. Such things promote homogeneity, which is something that's got newspapers into trouble. Before the web, it might have made sense for newspapers to get a lot of national content from the AP to augment their local coverage. But now that national news can be had so easily from anywhere, it only makes sense for sites or news organization to focus on their niche, whether it be a topic, region or simply the voice of the writer.