What Exactly is the Associated Press Announcing?

The blogosphere is in a tizzy over a press release from the Associated Press that begins as follows:

The Associated Press Board of Directors today announced it would launch an industry initiative to protect news content from misappropriation online.

AP Chairman Dean Singleton said the news cooperative would work with portals and other partners who properly license content – and would pursue legal and legislative actions against those who don‘t.

“We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories,“ Singleton said at the AP annual meeting, in San Diego.

As part of the initiative, AP will develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used.

The rest of the press release is about rate reductions and new “Limited” service–none of which are attracting much attention. Rather, everyone from the New York Times to Gawker is treating this press release like a declaration of war.

While the AP’s tone is angry, it seems premature to comment on the substance of their tactics until we know more. Saying they’ll use legal means to fight illegal activity is not only vague, but hardly objectionable in principle. Why don’t we wait to find out what they’re actually planning to do before going medieval on them?

Of course, if I get sued for copying over 100 words of their press release without licensing it, then I suppose I might change my tune.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

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