The AP and News Corp DEMAND To Be Paid For Their Content

from the taking-aim-at-your-own-foot dept

At a media summit in Beijing this week, Associated Press CEO Tom Curley and News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch declared that “It’s time to demand payment for online use of content.” This combative language rings ironic, considering the fact that without its content being published on “kleptomaniac” sites like Google News, not many people would even hear about this very article. As Weston Kosova at Newsweek astutely points out, if Rupert Murdoch truly wanted Google to stop “stealing” content, they could very easily stop that today with a simple robots.txt exclusion.

News organizations that are contemplating charging for access to their content might also want to stop calling their potential customers criminals — that’s really not great customer service. And after all, many sites, including Google, are already paying to license some of their content. So, instead of accusing customers of not paying enough, offering better reasons to buy would probably get more sites to pay up. But, that’s hard, so jumping up and down and demanding payment in a juvenile manner is much easier.

However, perhaps this is all merely negotiation brinksmanship — threatening to charge for access to their free content to see if anyone cares enough to pay. The problem is, if the search engines call their bluff and remove their content from their services, then the news organizations actually risk losing much more. As we’ve pointed out time and time again, news organizations like the AP have been continuing down this road of implosion, where they clearly don’t seem to understand the nature of their own business. For example, the AP’s obsession with creating a “news registry” that would enable the AP to track down “unlicensed” uses of its content hints at this fundamental misunderstanding. In his speech to the summit, Tom Curley said:

“Crowd-sourcing web services such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook have become preferred consumer destinations for breaking news, displacing Web sites of traditional news publishers.

To turn the tide, AP is creating a News Registry — a rights management and tracking system.”

Really? The AP’s response to people linking to and discussing AP articles is to go after sites for money? I am waiting to see which news organization will be the first to go after Twitter for payment for news tweets. Instead of focusing on how to demand payment for the distribution of an infinite good, news organizations should recognize the new opportunities afforded by the free distribution of their content and focus on how to build a business off their scarce goods.

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Companies: associated press, google, news corp

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Comments on “The AP and News Corp DEMAND To Be Paid For Their Content”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Not only are they not excluding them from robots.txt. They are specifically telling google what stories to index.’s robot.txt:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /printer_friendly_story
Disallow: /projects/livestream
User-agent: gsa-crawler
Allow: /printer_friendly_story
Allow: /google_search_index.xml
Allow: /google_news_index.xml
Allow: /*.xml.gz
Sitemap: []
Sitemap: []

Notice the sitemap section, they are directly telling Google what news they have

Anonymous Coward says:

I was thinking about this the other day. Breaking news has little value. If it did have value, then the media companies wouldn’t insist on graphics and “breaking news” music and bright red banners telling you it was important. If something truly important happens, chances are it’ll get disseminated regardless of whether or not the media companies tell you it’s important.

On the other hand, old news only gains in value. As memories fade and distort, news reports can provide a distinct perspective of any event. This is where news organizations should be focusing their monitizing. By improving the search and orginization capabilities of their archives. And it’s not about just putting it all behind a paywall, which some already do.

Richard (profile) says:


Yesterday’s reading in Church sounded relevant to this story:

(2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

The message is clear – if you are mean and try to demand payment for everything you will get meanness back – if you are generous and give away that which has little marginal cost to you then it will come back to you somehow…

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Reading

You know, I usually balk (sp?) at people that try to globally apply religion or biblical readings to everyday modern life, but this one is broad enough to actually work and the idea that FREE! is a concept backed by Mother Church is too tasty to pass up.

Just goes to show, that even if you dispise organized religion (as I do), parabolic lessons can still hold value…

Richard – Who wrote 2 Corinthians? As I recall, most of the letters to the Corinthians are attributed to the name “Paul”, which are regarded to actually be several people writing under that name. Is that correct?

Sal says:

Re: Re: Reading

All the research actually points towards one guy named Paul writing every letter associated with him. The early Christian church was obsessed with that type of stuff and did their research well. They were also obsessed with copying and translating it correctly as to not change the original text.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Reading

Are you being sarastic? If you are, then your comment is funny. If not, it’s still funny, but for a very different reason. I’m going to assume you wre being serious:

“All the research actually points towards one guy named Paul writing every letter associated with him.”

Yeah, that’s not even CLOSE to being true. Only SEVEN of his letters (1st and 2nd Corinthians among them) are largely accepted to be “Pauline”, though even then he didn’t write them. They were written by a amanuensis, or secretary, and at the time it was common practice for an amanunsis to paraphrase their master’s dictations, which could lead to subtle or unsubtle changes in wording and meaning.

Others have had their authorship hottly disputed, some even as far back as biblical times. Hebrews, for instance, has been disputed since it’s release to the public. Today it is considered by most experts to not be of Paul’s authorship. The disputes of the rest of the 5 epistles vary by degree.

“The early Christian church was obsessed with that type of stuff and did their research well.”

Again, that’s only partly true. The early Church, more specifically monks, were obsessed with exact REPLICATION of the documents they were given. But from the upper hierarchy there is a fair amount of selective inclusion when it comes to biblical texts and their interpretations. To pretend that the Church faithfully recorded all that was written by Christ’s contemporaries, and even the involved parties, is laughable.

“They were also obsessed with copying and translating it correctly as to not change the original text.”

Only after they made their original alterations. The Magdalene is a prime example, with the Church’s ridiculous interpretations of two passages that mention her to vilify her as a prostitute, then take ownership of her by claiming she repented. Those two passages only refer her as a woman who wore her hair loose (which actually meant that she was poor and of low class) and that she was a sinner (common reference by Hebrews of the time to those that were not Jewish, not prostitutes). From those two passages, the Church made her a prostitute.

Like I said, organized religion as anything other than a vague backbone for personal belief is a joke, and yet we’ve been killing each other over it for centuries.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Reading

“Interesting. Where did you find all this out? And how do you know your sources are accurate and unbiased? Simply because they agree with what you already believe? Or rather, want to believe?”

Well, history of world religions has been a passion of mine for some time, so I have read up on this topic from a variety of angles. However, the Saint Paul wikipedia page is actually surprisingly fleshed out and thoroughly sourced, particularly the section on Pauline Epistles and Authorship (one or both have entire pages dedicated to them). I would also highly recommend The Messianic Legacy for a starting point book.

All sources are or may be biased, so I try to read varying viewpoints and find consistencies that make sense. I have a viewpoint too, so I’m going to be biased on what I’m willing to accept, but I consider myself fairly open minded on the topic: I’m always swayed by well-sourced evidence.

What I find troubling is not that people believe, but that so many “believers” don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about when it comes to the history and basis for their own religions….

The Buzz Saw (profile) says:

Re: Reading

I’ll add to that.

Helaman 13:22 (Book of Mormon)
Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them; yea, your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“News organizations that are contemplating charging for access to their content might also want to stop calling their potential customers criminals”

These news organizations that are trying to extort money out of Google and trying to turn all news and any possible discussions into their intellectual property are committing a crime to humanity and they should be thrown in jail.

DocMenach (profile) says:

Re: If it were only that easy...

Most aggregators ignore robots.txt. Topix is a prime example.

Considering the fact that Fox and AP keep talking about Google over and over, and Google does not ignore robots.txt, I do not understand how this is even the slightest bit relevant. Plus, your example of one site that (you think) ignores robots.txt does not mean that “most” aggregators ignore it. In fact, just about all of the ones I can think of respect the robots.txt file (google, digg, linkedin). So I call BS on you.

P.S. I can always recognize you based on the content of your comments. Are you ever going to start commenting using a real username, since you come here and comment nearly every day?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: If it were only that easy...

For those who don’t respect robots.txt (and there really are very few), there is another, only slightly more complicated way — a server redirect. With that, any links followed from a particular source that you don’t like (Topix, or particular spiders, or whatever) are redirected elsewhere.

It’s how paywalls work.

The bottom line is that no news agency needs the cooperation of anyone else to prevent indexing or linking or their content.

The agencies are whining for show. They can’t possibly be this stupid. Instead, they’re hoping that Congress and the general public are this stupid.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: If it were only that easy...

“It also bypasses traffic to the front page of your website.”

Redirects can “fix” this, too. But I wouldn’t recommend it — the front page of your website is not the page that your readers are interested in if they’re following a link, and you’ll certainly lose them as regular readers. Instead, you should include a blurb on the sub-page that informs them as to why they want to go to your front page when they’re done there, and provide an obvious link.

Really, this is all website design 101.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: If it were only that easy...

“They claim to drive traffic back to your site, but many add their own commenting or social networking to keep the users on their site.”

If people are going to the aggregators for social networking and commenting, perhaps it is because those people WANT social networking and commenting (specifically a real conversation) that the news sites DO NOT provide. Provide a real value and just maybe those people will be on your site instead.

“It also bypasses traffic to the front page of your website.”

Oh, and welcome to 1995, where ‘hyperlinking’ directly to the page you want is in, and being directed to a confusing disorganized mess of a front page is out! Hey, think, in a few years you just might get rid of the tag!

duane (profile) says:

they have a point

What’s killing the various news organizations is that they suck. I am interested in news, but my hometown newspaper’s online site is a joke. It’s all filled up with Obama is the socialist anti-Christ stuff. So I cruise to other sites where the level of conversation is a little different. I get the same stories and conversation more to my liking.

A desire for community is what is screwing newspapers. They have crappy online communities and no one wants to be there.

They can try to charge for all the content they’d like, but it wouldn’t solve their problems. Instead sites like this one would just stop linking to them and provide a discussion of stories they had read. How hard is that? They can’t sue you (and win) for discussing something you read.

If you seriously consider it, how many people on this site read the articles that are linked to versus simply riffing off of what is written about the articles?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: they have a point

“how many people on this site read the articles that are linked to versus simply riffing off of what is written about the articles?”

Dunno. But I read the ones that interest me. And if I haven’t read the linked stories, then I don’t comment. 90% of the time, anyway (nobody’s perfect!)

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Charging for Propaganda

“I for one am not going to pay for it. theirs or the other mainstream media who are owned by just 6 people.”

It’s corporations, and I’m pretty sure there’s 8 of them that own something like 90% of mainstream “media”. I sent M&M a book rec that covered this, including well documented sources. Not sure if he ever read it.

Ess (profile) says:

My thoughts...

AP news sucks, seriously fact check a random sample of 10 reports, you’d be surprised what you find, but it does have some cool pictures. Fox news, well there aren’t enough expletives in the world to begin to cover what I think of Fox or Murdoch himself for that matter.

This is just the reflex grip of a starving man for a mirage. I am very happy to see that they are finally dying, in large part, from their own stupidity. Do not patronize their sites, many times key facts are wrong or misleading, and it is one thing to be deceived for free but quite another to pay for it especially since they’ll both take payment in exchange for providing content. Maybe instead of just taking payment and giving editorial control to advertisers, they should seek employment of a foreign intelligence agency. I’m sure Iran would love to have US moth piece.

Bon Chance et Bon Voyage, assholes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once again, Mike, you create a headline that doesn’t tell the truth.

“The AP and News Corp DEMAND To Be Paid For Their Content”

The real quote: ” Rupert Murdoch declared that “It’s time to demand payment for online use of content.” “

The difference? They aren’t demanding to be paid for nothing, they are demanding to get paid when the content is used by others online.

I know this is your favorite way to be misleading, making all content producers sound like they are holding a gun to people’s heads and making them pay. It just isn’t the case.

Misleading, just like Faux News.

DocMenach (profile) says:

Re: Once again

And once again, AC, you make a comment that does not actually correspond to the way things work in real life. Reporting and commenting on facts is not something that can be copyrighted.

I know this is your favorite way to be misleading, making it seem as if News aggregators are somehow stealing from the big content publishers. It just isn’t the case.

Although, at least we can agree about Faux news being misleading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Once again

Of course they are stealing – they aren’t sending reporters out in the field to get the story, they are just copying from AP.

What the heck do you think that is?

Put another way – if news content producers all suddenly locked their news up for a week, and said “no google allowed”, what would google have?


That pretty much sums up the issue.

Karlheinz (user link) says:

Actually, nobody mentions Google by name here (though Curley mentions “search engines”). The specific people they’re concerned about are Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook.

This is really problematic, because none of these actually reprint content verbatim from AP sources. They only provide links, or talk about the news, which is not copyright infringement in any way.

In other words, what they are actually trying to stifle is free speech. That is the most alarming thing about the whole affair.

Thankfully, there were plenty of voices in that article. Hans Mahr seems to get it right:

Mahr encouraged media companies to make sure their news and other content was available on as many platforms as possible β€” online, in print, and on mobile phones. They also need to find new ways to make money by charging extra for news delivered via phones and other smart devices, or do things like add gaming, e-commerce, or merchandising to their services.

DocMenach (profile) says:

I guess Hans doesnt get it either though

Well if Hans Mahr said that, then he is pretty oblivious too then. With a statement like:
They also need to find new ways to make money by charging extra for news delivered via phones and other smart device
I guess he’s never used a smartphone before. Most smartphones that are available now can surf the internet and receive RSS feeds in the same way a computer can.

Javarod (profile) says:

Just remember, you pay the AP for such quality content as this:

Yeah, dunno how you would confirm that as real, but if it is, that’s damned hilarious, considering that they feel their content is so valuable and unique that you have to pay for it. Well, that’s certainly unique, but i doubt its worth much.

another mike (profile) says:

rtb wtf

For those of you who may be wondering, “getting around the pay wall” is not a Reason to Buy.
Truncated stories, inability to comment, and more ads for non-paying visitors are likewise not reasons to upgrade from anonymous coward membership. Those are reasons to just go away and find a news source that doesn’t abuse its customers.
I’m looking squarely at my local paper the Sierra Vista Herald, who just went through an ill-advised “we’re afraid of the internet” re-org. They didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they emptied the whole damn mag!

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