AP Finally Launches NewsRight... And It's Righthaven Lite?

from the really? dept

A few years back, the Associated Press announced plans to try to DRM the news, with an announcement that was mostly astounding for its technical cluelessness. It took nearly three years, but the project (now officially spun off from the AP -- who is still the largest shareholder) has been announced as "NewsRight," and is being described as an attempt to get bloggers and aggregators to pay up for "profiting" off the work of the AP or the other newspaper partners of NewsRight (including the NYT, McClatchy and others). Of course, the devil is in the details, and no matter how many details I read, this whole thing still doesn't make any sense at all.

At best, it appears to be Righthaven Lite. It doesn't sound like they'll totally pull a Righthaven, where their first move is to sue, but rather (from the various vague descriptions) it sounds like NewsRight will be going around simply trying to get blogs and aggregators to buy a license. But here's the thing: on what legal basis? That's the part that's not clear. Much of what blogs and newspapers do is simply not infringing (even if the AP likes to pretend it is). There may be some extreme cases where there is infringement, but most standard cases seem like classic fair use. And that's where it gets worrisome that this turns into a legal shakedown -- whereby sites are pressured to pay up just to avoid a legal fight, no matter how strong the legal position of these sites might be.

But, much more to the point, nothing in this plan appears to be about adding value. That's the key way to determine if a business model is heading in the right direction, or if it's really just someone trying to "free ride" on the work of someone else. NewsRight appears to be the worst kind of free rider, honestly. They're not adding any value -- they're just demanding people pay up to avoid a negative cost (the legal threat). Also telling? The company admits that half the staff is... lawyers, and that appears to include the company's CEO. When your 11-person company employs multiple full-time lawyers, you're not innovating. You're abusing the law. This seems like a complete disaster in the making -- and not because "information wants to be free." But because NewsRight doesn't appear to provide anything of actual value to sites. All it does is carry a big stick around and say, "pay us if you don't want to get whacked." I'm sure some sites will pay, but it's difficult to see how this adds anything of value to the world.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    This reminds me of the situation where the Belgian newspapers sued Google to have them removed from its aggregation. Google obliged. Then the newspapers were upset because Google was no longer driving business to them.

    If AP wants bloggers and others to pay up, then the bloggers and others will probably just ignore AP. There are plenty of other news sites.

    I wonder how long it will take AP to start suing people for ignoring them. Or, how long it will be before bloggers and other news sources expect AP to pay up on the same terms that AP is demanding.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:28pm

    What's this all about?

    Money, dear boy!

     

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      DannyB (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 6:20am

      Re: What's this all about?

      Money for a dinosaur that can't compete with the internet but once had a monopoly or near monopoly and is therefore entitled to monopoly rents.

       

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    hothmonster, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    "It's easy to see how this adds value to the bank accounts of only a few lawyers and rich legacy companies ceos while hampering the spread of factual news to the population at large."

    Ftfy

     

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      letherial (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:05pm

      Re:

      well dont complain

      its the american way.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

        EU worse

        The EU is ten times as heavy handed as the US. Pay-to-Play music in public, movies in public, news in public. Spain just passed their version of SOPA.

         

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          Planespotter (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:24am

          Re: EU worse

          Spain did their version of SOPA because the US pressured them into it.

          The main reason we British watch what happens in the US is to see what stupid laws our own politicians are planning to create next. They see what you do and then either on their own or by pressure try and do the same things here.

           

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    Anonymous A-hole, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:36pm

    Guerilla warfare - They can't defend a hundred lawsuits

    The way to fight this is to push back and fight them.. Righthaven failed because they couldn't pay to fight the lawsuits they started.

    Just fight them and make this unprofitable for them

     

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    codeslave (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    "Hot news"

    Don't forget, AP has tried to push the idea for years that they own "hot news" content, regardless of source or copyright. Think of the money to be made suing people for linking to non-AP content if it happens to fall under their interpretation of the "hot news" doctrine!

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    Proposal:

    We should gather as many people as we can who have been quoted in AP news stories, and get them all to send letters demanding the AP buy a license.

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    Another Proposal:

    Dear AP - for a tenth of what you are spending on all these lawyers, you could have set up a premium news service with banks of additional quotes & photos that didn't run in the articles, early access to some stuff, etc. and offered it to all these same bloggers. Sincerely, An Actual Business Model

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:04pm

    When in doubt, sue.

    I think this will become entertaining as we have seen AP lifting content from others wholesale.
    Given AP demanding there be a system that benefits only them, the law will take a dim view of them pretending it doesn't actually say that when they are the defendants.
    Like the MPAA/RIAA who violate the same laws they demand are needed.
    Are corporations really this myopic to think that when you can see it to someone else, it will never happen to you?

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 7:07pm

      Re:

      Each section of the content industry, is a closed room, it doesn't allow any sort of input from external sources. Each section, music, news, video, books, of content, is closed off from every other content sector. You will see each sector doing what the previous ones did before, just at different times, and in slightly different ways. The AP is in the worst possible position in this transition to digital media ...

      They are the middle men, of the middle men.

       

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      DannyB (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      > When in doubt, sue.

      Sue first, ask questions later. -- Righthaven.


      > Are corporations really this myopic . . . ?

      Yes.

       

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    Steve Ross, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    NewsRighthaven?

    Charging 46 cents a word for quotes like the AP tried before will not stand as soon as they are taken to court. The good news is it should help to clarify fair use issues soon after such litigation.

    Understandably, taking full articles is another matter, but sending valuable traffic via an opening dek from millions of blogs should clearly be fair use.

     

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    letherial (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:11pm

    I must say, that's wonderful timing with SOPA getting traction.

    Politician doesn't like the other partys view point...its now easily solvable, contact AP friend, AP friend gets content pulled cause its 'copyrighted without a license'. Court battle may happen but by that time, it doesn't matter...

    With unlimited finances, and censorship ability, we got our self a nice little banana republic in the making. We will make china so proud.

     

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    Cynyr (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:12pm

    Legal grounds.

    Hmm this bit wasn't thought out.

    At best, it appears to be Righthaven Lite. It doesn't sound like they'll totally pull a Righthaven, where their first move is to sue, but rather (from the various vague descriptions) it sounds like NewsRight will be going around simply trying to get blogs and aggregators to buy a license. But here's the thing: on what legal basis? That's the part that's not clear.


    Well on the basis that the $500 license will be cheaper than a court case for most. Doubly so if you include missed work and travel expenses.

    Your standard "legal blackmail" tactic.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Sigh...

    Someday someone will decide to get a copyright on the sunrise and sunset, and make everyone pay a royalty for looking at them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 4:46pm

    AP business model is dead

    In the old days the AP had a purpose, news distribution.

    Today it serves no purpose, the Internet can distribute news much better than the AP ever could.

    This legal strategy will fail, soon after so will the AP and good riddence.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    All of us webbroadcasters forced to deal with SoundExchange or be sued out of existence say "Hi."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

    Director rapes Kim Novak LoL

    Novak, 78, also said in the advertisement: "I feel as if my body - or at least my body of work - has been violated by the movie."

    The statement was headed by the words: "I want to report a rape".

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16482624

    That because the director of the movie The Artist (2011) dared to make a homage to Alfred Hitchcock, by using scores from the movie Vertigo (1958)

    That right there is why no artist should ever ever have a say on how things are used after it is released to the world.

     

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    Mr. Bad Example (profile), Jan 10th, 2012 @ 8:12pm

    They're completely clueless

    I was one of the folks who sent this story in to Techdirt last week after noticing a short announcement in the business section of the McClatchy Company's flagship newspaper, the Sacramento Bee. Now, since McClatchy incurred massive debt a few years ago in buying out what remained of the old Knight-Ridder newspaper chain, they've been bleeding money and slashing costs-mostly by cutting content and employees. At the Bee, they've gone from nearly 50 local writers to less than a dozen full-timers, the paper has literally shrunk in both length, width, and number of pages, and there's only 5 or 6 local stories a day (the rest coming from newswire sources). All of these changes have been excused away to their customers as "improvements", although no one is fooled by that. The Bee has independent sales reps inside the doorway of local supermarkets trying to flack their rag, and the things people say to them are pretty right on..."Why would I pay to see a story that I watched last night on TV?", "What happened to your paper...it used to be good?", etc.
    My biggest question-how many writers, and how much enhancement, could the Bee alone have benefitted from with the $300,000 that McClatchy is already committed to spending on this fiasco in the making?
    I asked the same thing in the comments section of the Bee. In fact, I did so two days in a row, since for some reason the operators of the Bee's website saw fit to delete the long list of negative comments on this story for at least 3 days in a row...
    The people in the executive suite at the corner of 21st and P Streets in downtown Sacramento need to go back to the business school they supposedly graduated from and either ask for their money back or re-take a few economics classes.

     

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    JayTee (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 1:43am

    Facepalm

    What is quite hilarious is the final lines of the Washington Post article here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/ap-nytimes-mcclatchy-others-launch-newsright-online- rights-clearinghouse/2012/01/05/gIQAgBwxcP_story.html

    which says:

    "Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed."

    And then immediately underneath this statement are a selection of social media sharing buttons to "redistribute" the content to your friends on Facebook, Twitter etc...

    HA

    :)

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 4:34am

    And this is why SOPA is needed. Those rogue blogs linking to gazillions of infringing content must be blocked! Where's ICE when you need them?! /sarc

     

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      DannyB (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      SOPA does not go far enough. The real way to prevent any and all forms of infringement is to simply not allow hyperlinks.

      That prevents linking to infringing material. Google would become a nice safe place instead of the rogue web site it is now.

      If nobody can legally provide hyperlinks to infringing material then no infringement will be possible. All piracy will be instantly stopped. It will be impossible to download infringing content if nobody can post a hyperlink to it.

      Similarly, if we made it illegal to tell anyone where to buy illegal drugs, then the war on drugs would instantly be over and done.

       

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