Posted October 11, 2007 10:32 am by with 18 comments

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image Just when you thought old media was starting to understand the value of opening-up their content for all to see, The Associated Press shows what a big dumbass it is.

Rich Ord is reporting that AP is suing news aggregator Moreover (owned by Viacom Verisign) for copyright infringement. The basis of the suit is to prevent the company from linking to AP stories.

Wait, let that sink in for a minute…

Think about it…

There you go!

Yep, if the court agrees with AP, bloggers and other news sites would no longer be able to link to an AP story–maybe ANY story–without permission.

Here’s how Ord interprets AP’s claims…

It makes you think that if fair use is narrowed to this extent, no article could quote another article. Or perhaps the AP lawyers would agree that you could quote another article as long as you don’t link to that article; thus, a kind of backwards SEO.

The heart of the complaint by AP is their contention that you can’t operate a news aggregation site like Moreover (or Google NewsTopix, Drudge, WebProWire, Digg and Techmeme) as a commercial venture. Unless you have an agreement with AP to carry their stories, apparently, you can’t link to them.

Still, if AP wins, then I’m sure Google will be happy. After all, they really hate it when you link to someone these days.

P.S. We didn’t get permission to use the AP logo–bring it on AP! 😉

  • I already don’t link to them. I also don’t link to stories posted on sites that know that every web page must live forever otherwise but kill their pages authored by AP after a short time ( and many other sites do this – keep their content up permanently but I am sure due to outdated AP thinking have to kill those pages after a short time). They clearly don’t understand even the basics of the web.

  • Although I agree with you Andy, your approach is highly unprofessional here.

  • @Modern Worker – huh? What’s “unprofessional” about it.

  • Forget about if it is unprofessional or not, if that did pass how in the world would they ever enforce that. You would have every moron in the world linking to them just because they said you can’t?

    I don’t know maybe I am looking at this wrong but I think it would be impossible to enforce.

    Not linking to them because they don’t keep their permalinks up or the politics of the AP is a different issue 🙂

  • @Scott – I would imagine any ruling would apply only to news aggregators that use an automated tool to pick up headlines and links – at least that is my hope.

  • Wow, that’s pretty insane. So if you link to an AP website, you could face legal action. I wonder if they would go after personal blogs if they link to a story?

  • Andy,

    An AP exec noticed an error somewhere in my story. Moreover is owned by VeriSign, not Viacom. Please change in your post.

    Rich Ord
    CEO, iEntry, Inc.

  • @Rich – done

  • Now I can understand them being upset if you’re grabbing the entire article and republishing it, but are they really upset because someone grabs a snippet and links back to AP for the full story?

    Dumbass only scratches the surface Andy.

    I guess we’ll all have to start linking to Reuters instead. I wonder which service will have more people subscribing to their content in a few years.

  • oh dear oh dear. someone’s in the darkages.

    their own loss though.

    p.s any reason the font for the comment is different to the name/email etc? It’s a bit odd…

  • @Adam – no reason. 🙂 Just the way it’s designed.

  • I was reading about this and the issue is not the linking the issue is that they have a paid area of their site with full copies of the AP stories and they are not paying AP to host the full stories.

  • Topsy turvy world.

  • And you know the same ign’ant stuffed shirt that fumed in a meeting about people “stealing” their content that started this whole thing is going to be throwing a fit the month after this goes into effect about why their traffic and ad revenue is down. Maybe because you shut off your #1 source of traffic you big dope.

  • This just has to be the number one stupid thing on the web I ever heard of. I can’t link to somebody? No court is going to agree with that, I mean it is my business what do I do with my own blog isn’t it?


  • It is the stupidest thing but don’t give our courts so much credit. Many judges are disturbingly ignorant of simple online concepts, yet are allowed to rule on issues involving them.

  • Well, in fact you *can* link to Google News… because Google has *paid* AP, AFP, the NYT, the UK newspaper association, others? (Terms are always confidential.) Google has even started a blog to better communicate with publishers and no longer provides links to wire-service stories on customer sites, only the wire-service stories themselves. Some speculate that the turning point which has encouraged trad media and wire services was the Copiepresse victory in court over Google in Belgium. Google made a much-hyped “partnership” deal with AP last year, but the only concrete result has been that AP is not suing them. They settled with AFP for an undisclosed amount. Trad media understands the Internet very well, they just mind going out of business without a fight. And I think it’s a valid question whether the world’s interests are served by having wire services go under.

  • I’d have to say everything we’ve seen from traditional media on the whole lends pretty strongly to them mostly not having a single clue about the internet. They sit on massive repositories of content that expands on a daily basis. If they can’t monetize that to a magnitude of at least a hundred fold of what they have traditionally done in print over the years, then they have no idea what they are doing online. There is absolutely no reason why the internet should be putting these guys out of business, in fact, it should have propelled them to heights of profitability that they could have never imagined. Not only did they miss the boat, but they continue to miss the boat? You’ve got professional blogs out there, starting back with the Drudge Report, scooping reporters for going on a decade now, and they’ve always turned a profit. They understand nothing.

    As to the world’s interests being served by wire services going under… You mean services like Reuters who have repeatedly been caught running flat out fabricated stories, made up sources and PhotoShopped pictures? Yeah, big loss there.