Posted August 3, 2009 8:54 am by with 9 comments

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As if there wasn’t enough change on the Internet these days the Associated Press (AP) is now putting together a program that will cost anyone who uses anything that they publish a minimum of $12.50. While that may seem a bit much it gets even worse when you discover that that price is for using just 5 words or less of their material! We touched on the subject recently and this update suggests that things may be getting really weird since desperation rarely yields good results.

Mashable gives the lowdown on how this is shaping up and while pictures are worth a thousand words it may be best to look at this rate scale before we move on

AP Copyright Rates

The Associated Press is doing their best Twisted Sister impersonation by screaming “We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore” but at what cost? The Mashable article points to the already bizarre requests they have for their employees regarding social media so this apple doesn’t seem to be falling too far from the tree, so to speak.

What is interesting is this idea the AP has that more harm than good comes from the wider distribution of their material. I don’t get that personally. I suspect that if they effectively close off the wider distribution and awareness that the Internet’s channels offer, they will be cutting off their news noses to spite their face. Yes, they are a tremendous content creator and have been for a long time. Those times, however, have changed significantly and they haven’t.

What if people who only read a newspaper or access a newspaper online saw the AP’s work? With the numbers dropping like a rock in that area and the threat of them plummeting further once most go to their own paid content model the AP may be planning its own extinction. At least they may get a few bucks for their less widely read material. Would congratulations be in order for causing their material read by less people and some new player come in and become the AP of the modern era?

Ben Parr says it well when it comes to where this thing may be headed:

We don’t know the answer to this conundrum. But we do know that the AP’s current plan is riddled with holes. Laws protecting fair use come into play and are essential to freedom of the press. The AP really needs to define their policy on fair use vs. reprinting. It also seems obvious that no small-scale publisher is going to pay $12.50 to quote a line from an article, when quoting and linking on the web are common practice.

So if you are the AP do you throw a publisher’s equivalent of a hissy fit to get more from less? Wouldn’t it be better to further explore how to cooperatively work with other content distributors and publishers to maximize the reach and impact of their material rather than limit it?

  • Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the screenshot and the commentary. I’ve been loosely following these developments, and while I agree this amounts to a losing strategy, I can sympathize with the AP’s position.

    What suprises me is that the AP isn’t doing more to highlight the difference between their output, which is the product of journalistic process, consensus and impartial reporting, and the blogosphere, which is usually opinion-laden, impulsive and impassioned and therefore, biased and imbalanced.

    I would not suprised if the day comes when professional reporting from a reliable source like the AP returns to glory, and if that’s the case, why not let people repurpose whatever they like, but make them pay to attribute it the AP, since they will likely remain a trusted news brand.


    .-= Eric Schwartzman´s last blog ..Rock-Ola: Engadget – Rock-Ola updates jukeboxes, adds hard drives and iPod support =-.

  • I really hope that rather than pay AP for use of ANY headlines or content, Google simply drops them from the index. Only then will AP see much they depend on their content being spread across the globe. . . for free.

    Better to figure out a way to monetize their content than restrict its flow.

  • Oh crap, I just shared an AP story excerpt on Facebook. Not including the headline, it is 25 words and a thumbnaill photo, linking the story directly to AP. Wonder if they added 12.50 to my tab?

  • DonAlons

    Some comparison might be interesting:
    here’s the AP site:

    and here’s Reuters (they pursue a different policy, Silicon Alley Insider has an article for blogger
    using content to that: +Reuters: steal this copy+)

    It could be that Reuters, irrespective of the payment discussion, for some is more attractive,
    has more of news quality than AP

  • Michelle Hippler

    What I’d like to see is all the laid-off journalists (and future laid-off AP journalists) create a new industry that goes back to one based on integrity and unbiased reporting. That way they can truly hone their craft and build a future for themselves, instead of toeing the parent corporation’s PR line and worrying about being laid off.

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  • The reason of this is probably because they want to filter the junk so by charging they are assured of maintaining a certain level of quality.
    .-= Marketing de Recherche´s last blog ..Example of a Bad Banner (funny) =-.

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