Cost vs. Benefit In Tracking Down People Using AP Content

from the what's-the-value? dept

The Associated Press (surprise, surprise) is covering that the Associated Press has signed on with some new startup that will help them scour the web to find websites that use AP content without a license. This is presented by the AP as a thing that clearly makes sense for the AP to do… though, that’s not necessarily true. Doing this costs money, as well as time and effort (and lawyers) to respond to those who are using the content in an unauthorized manner. Compare that to the benefit of the AP forcing random sites that probably don’t get any traffic to take the AP story they copied down. It just doesn’t seem worth it. If there’s a really big site using their content in an unauthorized manner, it seems likely to come to the AP’s attention pretty quickly anyway. The small sites that this type of service will probably turn up aren’t really costing the AP anything because they’d never license the AP content in the first place. So, if you look at the cost-benefit, you have to wonder how this could possibly make sense for the AP.

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Comments on “Cost vs. Benefit In Tracking Down People Using AP Content”

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Jamie (user link) says:

Re: This Will Be Done Cheaply

If it is an automated system, then how many false takedown notices will it send out?
From my understanding, when you get a takedown notice, you only have two options. Option one, remove the content right away. Option two,hire a lawyer to protect you. Ignoring the notice because you think it is in error is not an option. Who pays the legal costs of the people who get these notices when they are false? Seems like there should be a penalty for sending out false takedown notices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This Will Be Done Cheaply

Seems like there should be a penalty for sending out false takedown notices.

But there really isn’t. The law was basically written the way the industry wanted it. Now, if some regular non-corporate citizens start to get in on the act too you can be sure some federal judge will make a case law to stop that.

Overcast says:

Well, then they can just use another news service.

Look – when I surf for news, I don’t really think much about where I read it. If I go to Joe Blow’s site and read an AP article, I most likely will go to the AP’s website and read it there. Usually getting lost in other pages on their site now.

They should consider it free advertising, but whatever.

Just like the RIAA – happy to sue someone for a dime.

But that brings up another question – if the news quotes something I say – without my express permission, can I send them a cease and desist order?

Davis Freeberg (profile) says:

Just A PR Stunt

Sometimes the cost of sending out the notices is worth it, if you can convince your customers that you are doing something to prevent the dilution of your brand. AP is worried that with the papers cutting back, that they’ll pull subscriptions. Given the competition with the blogs, online media, and the gazillion other things that are driving us from print, it’s a real problem for the papers, if the content they are paying big money for, is ending up on splogs littered across the internet. Even if AP never gets a cent, the move is worth it, if they can convince their customers that they are getting semi-exclusive premium content.

Fred Flint says:

Cornflakes, Aisle Four

What does “use AP content” mean? Obviously you can’t just copy the story onto your web page, especially without attribution but does the word ‘use’ include links to AP content?

How about quoting information from an AP story and commenting on it? Is that OK. None of this is properly explained in the original news story.

If we’re going to get to the the point where can’t link to information that’s available on the WWW without paying someone or we’ll all get sued, what use is the WWW?

….talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg!

Someone should tell these dickheads the Internet was invented to share information, not to greedily wall it off into tens of millions of tiny little ‘castles’ and then sell it off piece by piece to the serfs who can afford to be the highest bidders.

I’m beginning to really, really hate large corporations. They’re taking something as magnificent and important to all mankind as the Internet and turning it into a grocery store to sell boxes of corn flakes.

Brad Eleven (profile) says:

Why not make deals instead?

If they can cheaply find “offenders”, why not inform them of proper use of their property, e.g., quote from & refer to source site?

Oh, wait, that’s right… the AP doesn’t have its own source site. I presume that AP was given this choice at some point, but balked at the cost + the possible reneg’ing of deals already made with previous customers.

The Internet has already changed the world; what we are seeing is the catch-up cycle. Sometimes it’s stunningly innovative, but for the most part, it’s greedy lawyers making it worse than it already is.

Newshound says:

AP Is The Worst of the Worst

When you need a definition of how bad the mainstream media is (MSM) take a look at AP. They have no equal when it comes to shoddy reporting, failure to check facts and conducting business like it’s still 1955.

That they would spend a truckload of money to catch a few dopers who still think AP is still relevant just proves my first statement.

Michael McLaughlin says:


The small sites that this type of service will probably turn up aren’t really costing the AP anything because they’d never license the AP content in the first place. So, if you look at the cost-benefit, you have to wonder how this could possibly make sense for the AP.

AP copies are not unlike the childhood collection, of anything, that gets tossed by your parents when you venture out on your own or the first time it catches your wife’s attention.

Joe Smith says:

Bandwidth theft

They do not have my permission to use my servers and my bandwidth to have a web crawler scan my content to test it against their stories.

Where they are going to have trouble is that many reports on the same events are inevitably going to use the same words to describe the same events. If there is a direct quote from a participant they are going to use identical sentences. Indeed, it is possible that what this will wind up showing is that AP writers are copying the content from other sites to produce their own stories.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Bandwidth theft

Re the banning them from looking at your site thing – I think you’re slightly off target with that one, be careful or you’ll end up joining the dark side along with the Belgian press ;0)

Good point re the plagiarised articles – I for one will find it interesting when the first wave of counter DMCAs come in, from sites who have had their stuff stolen by AP NewSloths, and didn’t realise until the AP kindly told them

Shohat says:


“Freelance” attorneys cost lots of money. There are people working and getting salaries at AP – legal department. This is why big companies like IBM, MS, etc… get into huge legal battles without thinking much – they have people that get paid salaries and specialize in the relevant niche to fight for them.

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