How (and why) to replace the AP

The Associated Press is becoming the enemy of the internet because it is fighting the link and the link is the basis of the internet. From Richard Perez-Pena’s New York Times story today:

Tom Curley, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, said the company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. In an interview, he specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, news aggregators and blogs.

Them’s fightin’ words: quoting an article’s headline while linking to it would require licensing? This means we would have to get permission from and negotiate with sites before linking to them. That would kill the internet. It also would kill the Associated Press and the news organizations it cons into joining its dangerous crusade – make that its cartel – for no one will link to them and they will not be heard.

There has been much stupidity lately about how news should operate in the ecosystem in the internet – threats to try to extend copyright, the ominously named and ambiguously written Hamburg Declaration, the ACAP “standard” that would be a boon to spammers – but the AP’s shot across our bow is the most destructive and ignorant of them all. The AP doggedly refuses to understand the link economy of the digital age and its imperatives.

The AP would rather destroy the link economy. Oh, it probably won’t succeed, just because what it suggests is so impractical and illegal and ultimately undemocratic and unconstitutional. But like a bull in a knowledgeshop, it could do a lot of damage along the way, trying to rewrite the fair use that is the basis of the democratic conversation and rushing its members to even earlier graves by hiding their content from the readers it is meant to serve. Note well that most news organizations depend upon fair use every day when they quote somebody else’s story or comment on somebody else’s content. The AP is dangerous.

But that’s not the reason to replace it (it’s merely a bonus). No, the reason to replace the AP is because is that it is hopelessly, mortally outmoded for the digital age and its ownership structure – I blame its board of newspaper owners more than I blame its management – won’t let it be transformed for our new reality. We need a replacement that will better serve journalism and the public, not to mention the democracy.

The AP’s primary job is to distribute content. In a content economy, that worked well. In the link economy, what the AP does is a disservice to content because it cuts the links to the source by rewriting news. The AP also translates content from one medium to another, rewriting newspaper stories so they can be read on radio or TV; that, too, cuts the link to the source (and note that rip-and-read has been the worse enemy of original reporting since the invention of broadcast, long before the internet). And the AP adds some original reporting to the ecosystem but it can’t monetize that value in the link economy because to do so would compete with its owner/clients.

What we need is an infrastructure for a content marketplace online that rewards the creators of original reporting – not the copiers or the commodifiers (that is, the AP) – by exploiting the essential nature of how the internet operates, that is, the link.

I’ve called one fundamental example of this structure reverse syndication – and Politico has started implementing it. Look at it this way: In the old days – in the AP’s ways – Politico would have syndicated its story to other papers, which would have sold ads to earn the money to pay Politico. Now, of course, Politico’s story is just a link and a click away. So now another paper – say, the Chicago Tribune – can just link to Politico’s story. That rewards Politico for creating the story. But what about also rewarding the Tribune for adding value through the link, sending audience to Politico? It would be in Politico’s interest to pay the Tribune a share of its ad revenue for the article to encourage it to send more traffic and add more value. That is the missing piece.

Now imagine this Politico story sits out there on the internet with an ad on it and it is sharing that revenue with the Tribune proportional to the traffic the Tribune brings. Politico could sell that ad. But if the Tribune could get higher value, then it should sell the ad and share the revenue with Politico. Or a third party – oh, I dunno, Google – could sell the ad and share revenue with both. Whatever makes more money – that’s the question we should be asking; that’s what’s going to save the news business.

At the CUNY New Business Models for News Project, we are modeling the news ecosystem that we believe will emerge when a metro paper fades away. For our next project – when funded – I’d like to tackle this content marketplace infrastructure to look at what is needed: systems to track and pay and conventions to label content and draw audience to – and thus support – journalism at its source. With or without an AP, we need to improve the means by which original reporting is found and supported.

Another project I’d like to tackle is The New York Times’ favorite subject: how to support a Baghdad bureau in this new ecosystem. I don’t know that I have the answer or that there is one. Global Post is one try. There may be a need for support from charitable sources (the subject of my Monday Guardian column, which I’ll link to later). The AP and large, ambitious news organizations like The Times report from places where others can’t afford to go; we need to look at how to continue to do this.

That leaves the AP’s other role: translating content among media. Well, there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity. On Twitter, Reuters’ Chris Ahearn volunteered to step in. And online, there’s really no need to do that anymore; it takes all media.

Could the AP remake itself? Doubtful. Its owners won’t let it be run as a rational business – redefining rational for the link economy. It also isn’t structured to help its members remake themselves. I told the AP a decade ago, when I was still working for a client, that I wished it would start a national ad network for news sites, to help them succeed. But that’s just not the way they think.

I’ve also speculated with folks with money about buying the AP and remaking it for the digital age, without the handcuffs of its ownership structure. But every time, we come back to the gigantic wind-down costs that would entail, getting rid of parts of the operation that aren’t needed anymore. And that’s the problem: much of it isn’t needed anymore. Just ask the many newspapers that are canceling the service along with their $1-million-a-year bills. (See the Star-Ledger that was produced with a single AP pixel.)

So I think there are entrepreneurial opportunities to replace the AP and bring far greater benefit to content creators online – all content creators, not just the old news oligopoly. It’s time to break out the hammers.

(Disclosures: I am a partner at Daylife, a news aggregator. I was an advisor to Publish2, which also traffics in links. I was on the board of Moreover, which aggregates and creates feeds of headlines and links. I did all that because I see the potential of the link economy, by the way. I also wrote a book about Google – have I told you about that? – and have discussed many of these ideas with people there.)

: MORE: Note that the New York Times Company’s chief counsel does not think aggregation is a copyright issue.

: Note, too, that the “problem” of copyright violation is misdefined (a headline and a link is clearly not theft), and overstated (show me the millions of sites- other than spam blogs – that are copying whole articles), and wrongheaded in the idea that there’s a pot of gold here that will save the news business. It’s a big red herring. It’s a diversion from the real issue: the failure of the news industry to transform itself for the new economy. I guarantee you that if the AP goes ahead with this, it will pay lawyers more than it could ever earn. And it will hurt the industry and its brand in the process.

: Here’s a quick Marketplace story on the AP.

: TechDirt has some advice for Reuters: Go for it.

  • APisRidiculous

    this is ridiculous. i am already going to avoid AP unless they put out a retraction. its not like AP has very good stories anyway; half of it is opinionated drudge, and the other half is covered by every other source in the world separately. Really, the only people that use AP are organizations that don’t have the staff to cover the stories themselves. Nevertheless, they have other options — and I call for a Twitter and Blogger boycott!

  • http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/ Tom Foremski

    Take a look at this “adtribution” proposal. If you quote from my story, or quote the entire story you agree to republish the associated ads. That way AP or whoever, can take advantage of the distribution power of the Internet and bloggers. With larger sites like Chicago Tribune you could have a rev share agreement such as Amazon Associates.
    http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2008/06/support_the_sou.php

  • Robert Levine

    >>>The AP would rather destroy the link economy.

    At least according to blog posts, the “link economy” now has journalists from the Ann Arbor daily making $12-an-hour online. I’d say that’s WORTH destroying!

    • steve

      ooo,speaking of annarbor; would mr. jarvis care to look at and comment on their first few days?

      been following the lead up to launch and like everything except their (new?) policy of moderating comments before they post. doesn’t say alot about their trust in their community.

      heck, even buzzmachine let’s all us clowns post our thoughts, right?

  • steve

    curley up and …

  • http://www.ap.org Paul Colford

    Here are helpful explainers on AP’s news registry, announced on Thursday — links to a graphic, the announcement and FAQs:

    http://bit.ly/1a0gXu
    http://bit.ly/Ugvht
    http://bit.ly/pYFeq

    Thank you,

    Paul Colford
    AP Director of Media Relations

    • http://alisonw.com Alison Wheeler

      I would like to comment, but in order to do so I’d have to quote from one of our documents which, it appears, you wish to treat as copyright and unquotable/unreferenceable. I see a problem here …

      • Danny Thompson

        Wait a sec…did someone from the AP just post 3 links to the AP’s content here?

        Who pays for that?

    • http://industry.bnet.com/technology Erik Sherman

      I’ve looked through the documents, and they are remarkably obscure and don’t answer some simple questions:

      1) Does AP think that it has the legal right to control whether someone reproduces a headline with a link to the AP story?
      2) Aside from the very high level and hazy technical information, what is the business model that AP plans to follow?
      3) What does AP plan to do to people who reproduce the headline and add a link to the story?

      Until you can answer such questions simply enough that ordinary people like me can know what you intend, then all the spinning you want to do won’t gain you a penny’s worth of trust.

  • http://blog.agrawals.org/category/newspapers Rocky

    You’re absolutely right that given its current ownership structure, it’s next to impossible for AP to do the right thing, even if its management knew what it was.

    Mike Markson, one of the guys behind Topix, did a terrific blog post on AP and the strategic investor trap:

    http://www.marksonland.com/2009/04/ap_is_in_the_classic_strategic.html

    It’s unfortunate, because there are so many better ways for AP to exert its resources (and content) than trying to preserve a model that’s fundamentally not preservable.

    I had some thoughts on that here:
    http://blog.agrawals.org/2009/06/07/what-the-ap-must-do-now/

    I find it fascinating that NPR is actually doing a great job adapting to the new world, despite having similar constraints in terms of funding sources.

  • Robert Levine

    >>>But but like a bull in a knowledgeshop, it could do a lot of damage along the way, trying to rewrite the fair use that is the basis of the democratic conversation

    Jeff, please tell me HOW fair use is the basis of the democratic conversation? Fair use is not mentioned in the Constitution OR the Bill of Rights. It’s considered an exception to copyright law – nothing more. Is it important, sure. But it’s silly to say it’s the basis of our democracy. Come on.

    • http://wyman.us Bob Wyman

      It is implied in the right to free speech that you have a right to say what it is that you are speaking about.

      bob wyman

      • Robert Levine

        First of all, that’s not what fair use is. You ALWAYS have the right to say what you’re speaking about. Fair use governs your ability to _quote_ what you’re talking about.

        Second of all, fair use is limited. Even if you see it as part of free speech – which few lawyers do – your right to free speech ends where m copyright begins. Always has, always will. Fair use is a crucial exception to that. But it’s a limited right, not an absolute one.

        Thirdly, the AP can do whatever it wants. Jeff may think the AP is stupid, which is his right. But to say it’s changing the nature of our democracy is utter hogwash.

        Most of the people who favor a broad interpretation of fair use are the same people who stand to gain from it – Google’s lawyers, Web site operators and media consultants.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Fair use is a right but it isn’t a right to take whole content, we agree, expressed that way. There is no set definition of fair use for good reason; we don’t want one. The AP cannot do whatever it wants when it sues me for quoting and commenting on their headline; they are then trying to stop my fair use.

          Again, critics and journalists should stand for fair use because they depend upon them.

          Want to try an experiment, Rob? Ban your critics at Billboard from ever quoting lyrics because it’s not fair. Let’s see what they say to you.

        • Rob Levine

          When did I say I didn’t believe in fair use? I just said that it was a _limited_ right and that it wasn’t the bedrock of our democracy.

          At Billboard we observe the standard definition of fair use – we don’t take quote more than a paragraph of another story, even with attribution. I’ve never heard a standard with lyrics, but as people who make our living from copyright, I’d never let a writer quote more than 4 lines.

          But you’re not necessarily talking about critics. Two of the four tests of fair use are the purpose of the excerpt and its effect upon the value of the original. Any judge would see that the purpose of quoting a lyric in a review is the very soul of fair use and it has no discernible effect on the value of the song.

          Now let’s look at Google News. The purpose of those excerpts is _not_ commentary. And one could argue that they are having a substantial effect on the value of the original work – in this case the articles in question.

          Fair use protects different uses differently, Do you and should you have the right to quote an AP story to criticize it? Yes. Do you and should you be able to excerpt journalism wholesale, without commentary, for a commercial purpose? No. The AP is just enforcing its rights because Congress – which has this duty under the Constitution – has failed to do so.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          There is no standard definition of fair use. Show me that standard. Citation? Link?

          And as for GoogleNews, you, like the AP, are not understanding the essential economy of the internet: Google is giving them value with those links. Don’t want them? Simple. Robots.txt and say no. Are you refusing Google links? Or are you hiring SEO people to get more links? There’s the proof in this pudding.

        • Matthew Terenzio

          It’s worse than that. Robots.txt will work on regular Google Search. Many smaller news organizations had to actually REQUEST to be in Google News.

          Silly conversation.

          I vow this. If AP continues this path and my company doesn’t drop AP, I will renounce both.

          Side note: We have the makings of the new AP. It’s a new thing called Pushbutton via rssClo9ud or Pubsubhubbub.

        • Rob Levine

          >>>There is no standard definition of fair use. Show me that standard. Citation? Link?

          Of course there is no standard definition of fair use – it’s not a right! Which is what I said! Fair use is an exception to copyright law that rests on four tests: The purpose of the excerpt, the nature of the copied work, the amount and substantiality of the excerpt and the effect on the original work’s value. Since only the courts can grant this exception, it’s a matter of judicial precedent, not statute. And, incidentally, the burden of proof is on the _defendant_.

          >>>And as for GoogleNews, you, like the AP, are not understanding the essential economy of the internet

          The essential economy of the Internet seems to be turning dollars into dimes. That’s why I think it’s so exciting that some news organizations are ready to stop listening to consultants and start listening to reason.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Ah, the old dollars into dimes line.

          Well, that happens when monopolies are faced with competition.

          But there are new opportunities to be found. Rather than trying to protect the old models as the only strategy for the future, see the new opportunities. Try it.

        • Rob Levine

          The old monopolies line. The only monopoly in any of this is Google.

          The AP isn’t a monopoly. Nor are cable TV stations of music labels. There’s just no great moneymaking opportunities online for big companies who want to do great (which usually means pricey) journalism.

          So the AP sees an opportunity here. I hope it works.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Rob,
          The AP’s “opportunity” could prevent you, your magazine, your writers, and your students from quoting and linking to anything without explicit permission. I’d think hard before rooting for that.

        • Rob Levine

          Jeff, the situation journalism is in means there soon won’t be anything to quote from or link to. I’d think hard before rooting for THAT.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Rob, at CUNY, we are in the midst of the New Business Models for News Project, where we are finding workable models for news. Just because the world changes doesn’t mean it implodes. There are new opportunities. That’s what I teach in entrepreneurial journalism.

        • Rob Levine

          Jeff, most of those new opportunities pay pennies on the dollar, and you know it. Just look at the Website that replaced the Ann Arbor daily, where journalists who worked for the paper had to re-apply for lower-paying jobs. That’s not the kind of career I want, and, incidentally, I don’t think it’s the career most CUNY students want.

          These new models of journalism may generate more revenue for Google, tech start-ups, consultants and other people who hang out at Davos. I don’t care. I want a model that generates revenue for _journalists_.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Once again, Rob, you cannot stop yourself from personal attacks.

          Why don’t you wait to see what your colleagues produce before rejecting it? I’ll just bet we are finding that local bloggers are making more than you are paying.

        • Rob Levine

          For someone who says – wrongly – that anyone who protects copyrights is interfering with democracy, you seem awfully sensitive about criticism. Compared to what you say about people on this blog, that hardly qualifies as an attack.

          But let’s stop mincing words. As you properly disclose, you consult for various media companies and you’re on recording saying that journalists need to accept pay cuts and that news organizations can do their jobs with fewer journalists. As a consultant, do you recommend layoffs and/or cutting journalist salaries?

          This isn’t an attack – it’s a question. Since you hold yourself up as an expert – rightly so – I think I, as a journalist, have the right to ask.

        • Eric Gauvin

          This is where Jeff Jarvis usually publishes a bunch of other posts so this one gets pushed down… Jeff Jarvis never answers questions directly. Good luck.

        • Rob Levine

          I think you’re not giving Jeff enough credit, Eric. Although we frequently disagree, Jeff talks so much about the importance of transparency that I’m sure he’ll answer a question like this. Jeff?

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Haven’t been in that position but my opinions are certainly open here. News organizations will have to shrink. There will be no need for people handling commodity news and production of print. Do what you do best, link to the rest. At the same time, I have lamented on this blog that papers such as the SF Chron did not years ago see the future coming and retrain staff and bulid new products for growth using them when they had the opportunity. They just waited until grim reaper came – and his arrival was sure. I have also said to papers such as the Washington Post that when they laid off, they should have offered every journalist – respected people whose brands the Post built – blogs with business training and support and ad sales to help them establish businesses. Neither of those examples is a client; I say these things openly here on this blog. You can see who I work with on the About page.

        • Eric Gauvin

          Jeff,

          I’m sorry if you take everything I write as an attack, but we already know all that stuff. And frankly you do seem somewhat cagey when asked a direct question. An answer to Rob Levine’s clear question should be something like:

          a) I would recommend layoffs and/or cutting journalists salaries.
          b) I would not recommend layoffs and/or cutting journalists salaries.

          (no rhyming catchphrases please…)

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Eric,
          The answer is all over this blog. That’s what I said. I have suggested, for example, that the LA Times should use bankruptcy to close its presses and turn off its trucks and get rid of commodity-content and production jobs and concentrate on (finally) covering LA well, expanding through such a network. It’s hardly a secret. I repeat it over and over. No gotcha there. I gave you no rhyming catchphrases. So you stop with the insults. Enough.

        • Eric Gauvin

          Jeff,

          You did not answer Rob Levine’s question:

          “…do you recommend layoffs and/or cutting journalist salaries?”

          Yes you have “suggested” all kinds of things on this blog. That’s the point I’m making. You are all “smoke and mirrors.” You seldom go on record with specific statements of any real substance. Facilitating a never-ending online Jeff-Jarvis-themed “conversation” is all you do.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Eric, enough. I’ve answered the question time and again. I have publicly recommended cutting and restructuring staffs – not in conference rooms but right here and you know it.

          Now I’ve had it with your repetitive stress syndrome. Unless you say something new that is not dripping with insult, I shall ignore it or kill it. I’ve repeated that, too, as you repeat yourself often. Just as it is well-established that I have argued for restructuring of news organizations to smaller, profitable organizations with sustainable businesses, it is well-established that you don’t like me. So enough. Next insult gets killed.

        • Eric Gauvin

          You’ve spent more time and become all exasperated and say you’ve answered his question, so why don’t you just answer his question in the first place. You always say “read my blog and figure it out for yourself” when you could just answer the question directly. There’s a value to “conversation-like” evolution of ideas, but there’s also a time to go on record with specific statements. You fixate on me as only attacking you, but that’s usually because I’m pressing you to be specific. I have read your blog and think I have figured things out for myself, but sometimes it’s good get a specific statement straight from the horses mouth. I honestly do not think “read my blog and figure it out for yourself (implying that you’re dumb for asking in the first place)” is an answer. The simplest thing to do would be to say, “yes. I would recommend laying off and cutting journalists’ salaries.”

        • Jeff Jarvis

          Good god, man, let me try this ONE more time: He’s asking whether I’ve given that advice and I say that yes, I have, and I have done so in public.

          Asked and answered – many times. Now move on.

        • Jeff Jarvis

          I’ve just unapproved two more Gauvin comments making the same point again and again. Onward.

          But I’ll try it ONE last time: I am consistent in what I say in conference rooms and on this blog. My advice is consistent and open.

        • Rob Levine

          Eric, I think Jeff has been pretty clear. I disagree with him to the point where I think his opinions are scary. But I know he believes in what he says and wants the best for journalism, and I’m satisfied with his answer.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Thank you, Rob.

        • Andy Freeman

          > The essential economy of the Internet seems to be turning dollars into dimes.

          You write that like it’s a bad thing.

          Your customers seem to disagree.

          Craigslist pretty much proved that a huge fraction of folks were buying newspapers just for the classifieds.

          The rest of the news industry collapse is occurring because folks who want news don’t think your product is worth very much. Instead of blaming them for how little they think what you do is worth, how about producing something that is worth more?

          You say that you want a model that produces revenue for journalists but you’re unwilling to use the same model that everyone else uses. Why shouldn’t journalists be subject to the same economics as everyone else, namely produce something that is worth as much to your customers as you want to make from producing it.

        • http://industry.bnet.com/technology Erik Sherman

          I’d argue that a headline is actually a form of title, which is expressly denied copyright status under U.S. law.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Man, as a critic, I’d think this would be an area of agreement between us! Your right to comment on what others say includes the right to quote them. Not being allowed to quote others stifles the conversation. It’s quite obvious to me.

      • Paul Evans

        It seems almost oxymoronic to comment on something without quoting or LINKING. Are people supposed to simply take my word that my comment is a fair response to the original subject or argument? I can see how this works for Rush Limbaugh, but how does it work for people who actually want to exchange and then discuss ideas?

        It seems like everyone who wants to make money off the exchange of ideas would like to define fair use in the way that most benefits them — broad or narrow. I suppose that’s just business even if it does twist the letter or the intent of the constitution one way or the other.

        Me, as a former reporter, I’m used to quoting people and documents extensively in order to give everyone a fair say and, especially, if I am attempting to prove a point. It seems to be that APs position is antithetical to the principals of journalism. How does one do journalism without quoting and/or linking to sources? How would reporting be done were one to need a licensing agreement with every individual or agency that provides direct quotes or related material for a story? Does AP have some special status that they should be able to take that unlicensed information and then deny others the right to even refer to it in a demonstrably accurate way?

        One of the things I have heard many newspaper people lament in recent years is the increasing licensing being forced by professional sports and entertainment. Professional sports organizations are limiting what reporters can say and when they can say it. They are hiring their own photographers and blocking access to those from news organizations. Entertainers and their lawyers are more frequently asking for things like first cut on pictures or articles. There have been confirmed incidents or such arrangements being used to limit news reports of things that might be perceived as negative by the sport or entertainer. http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-retail-stores-not/4450808-1.html

        So how is what AP is proposing any different than what Getty and some sports authorities are already doing? And while it may serve AP’s business — which is arguable — it clearly does not promote a fair and accurate exchange of ideas.

        Perhaps it is hogwash to say AP would change the nature of our democracy. However, were one to extend their thinking to its obvious conclusion, then only those with very deep pockets would ever be able to make anything other than a very casual reference to anything said or written by anyone ever.

  • http://frogblog.biz Fred Schlegel

    I’m a little confused by the above. The AP wants to strong arm distribution agreements among anyone who takes a headline (what does it say about a story if all you need to see is the headline?) but your model also seems to imply some sort of revenue sharing based on traffic to and fro. What you seem to be suggesting is a technological answer which simplifies and implements what the AP wants to do.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Fred,
      I’m speaking about a new syndication model that has nothing to do with the right to link. Instead, it says that it’s in the interests of links’ recipients to get more links and so they may want to share revenue with those who link to them.
      The dinosaurs of news think people who link should pay them. It’s exactly reversed from the new reality.

      • http://frogblog.biz Fred H Schlegel

        The network effect could be powerful, Specially if such revenue sharing could be based on the type of traffic forwarded. In journalistic terms wouldn’t such revenue sharing need to be disclosed?

  • Joe

    The only way the link model would work is if it pays more to link than to host the content. Since the link (referral) revenue would be a fraction of what a site could realize from hosting the content themselves, this boils down to the cost of content. If it’s too expensive to own/host a story, given the ad revenue associated with it, then linking may be a preferred strategy.

    But even then, there are some key challenges, even if you assume a technology and accounting system existed to manage it all:

    1. Many news sites (and their networks) need a critical mass of traffic — page views — to attract higher paying clients. The more you link, the less traffic you realize, the lower your RPM (revenue per thousand pages). Of course, the counter argument is your incoming referrals should increase, but there’s a chicken-and-the-egg problem here.

    2. Similarly, the more you link, the fewer search referrals you receive, dropping unique users — a metric that’s commonly used to rank sites and networks, which is used to leverage advertisers.

    3. Each incremental page view is an opportunity to expose users to higher-value pieces of content, such as video. Fewer the page views, fewer the unique users (search), then overall consumption will drop, reducing overall revenue.

    4. Community tends to thrive more around an originating piece of content than the link that points to it. Publishers who value this community (and understand its subsequent value) would factor it into the revenue vs. cost analysis, ultimately providing a disincentive to link.

    And finally…

    5. Which newspapers, currently, can pay for referrals? In many cases, their display RPMs are so low that the link payment would be too unattractive to motivate anyone to link them. There’s a core advertising problem to solve first.

    That is the issue, not paying for links. How can newspapers engage local advertisers with products that drive more trackable value than Google, yellow pages, Valpack and the TV station down the street?

    Solve that first.

    • http://wyman.us Bob Wyman

      > “5. Which newspapers,…, can pay for referrals?”
      Any news source can pay for referrals as long as the payment is a revenue split rather than a per-impression fee.

      > “1. … news sites …need a critical mass of traffic”
      Right. The ugly reality is that there isn’t enough traffic to make every news site individually interesting to advertisers. There are simply too many news sites.
      What we need is a way for news sources to profit from their work without having their own high-traffic sites. If we had that, then I think we would see an explosion in the number of news sources at the same time that we enabled a consolidation of the news sites.

      bob wyman

  • Sorry Anon German

    In regards to the german thing i have to speak up for some of the digital media, if not for a great part of it now.
    There are some of us who have business models that are up and running and some who simply know how to make a bussines out of it. So if there a big companies signing the hamburg declaration that doesnt mean this companies dont have smaller companies in them who are simply aware of the benefit that search engines and google in special bring them: traffic and ad revenues. Lots of them from both.
    What i want to say: There are people and companies who truly understand what is going on and what is reallity and wo are keen to keep the actual model up and running. And yes, beneifiting from linking back to something would be great, because everyone who knows a bit more on seo knows as well that the linking, especially in big web media, is gone wrong for several years now.

    The main problem is that german news forces now go into a battle with google instead of the development of business models, another reicarnation of kraut computing in the large. Lets hope the people who are doing the decision thing are reasonable ad smart (busnesswise) the next months. I guess there are a lot newssites/sites in germany who can NOT stand another youtube-vs-gema war like it was some months ago. ;) We all like to keep out obs, but not everyone is a dinosaur, even if we work for them sometimes. ;) Greetings from Krautland

    • Rob Levine

      What’s wrong with GEMA’s lawsuit against YouTube? GEMA (roughly the German version of ASCAP, for those who haven’t heard of it) is standing up for the rights of its members (songwriters, not recoring artists) against a company that is trying to profit from their works without adequate compensation. I think that’s pretty great.

  • Pingback: Web Media Daily – July 24, 2009

  • Jon

    Isn’t copying content a newspaper bedrock? Why should it be any different for the Web?

    Rob, I encourage you to try actually try reading the Constitution. Googling online will give you plenty of links, of course – an opportunity not available to either of us as kids. Congress only has responsibility to set laws.

    In fact, Congress has done EXACLY as you and people like you have asked, turning intellectual property into an authoritarian, Prohibitionist nightmare. But that’s hardly helped you, hasn’t it?

    What I want to know is, why, given the clear failure of Prohibition, which SHOULD’ve been taught all of you, why do so many in power think exactly the same course of action will do good in more and more authoritarian fronts? Drug war? A failure. War On Terror – we still have terrorism. Most to your problems, the RIAA crackdowns only resulted in major revenue losses by distracting them from keeping having good stuff; RIAA’s expert claimer of copyright violation couldn’t even get court expert certification because its methods were so speculative.

    Why would AP do better?

    • Rob Levine

      >>>Rob, I encourage you to try actually try reading the Constitution . . . Congress only has responsibility to set laws.

      Congress does that BY setting laws. Here’s the section you need to read:

      “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

      Any more questions?

    • Jon

      Rob Levine wrote:
      Any more questions?

      One or a thousand or so. First, what law, specifically, do you want Congress to pass that they haven’t yet passed? Why do you think it’ll fare better than Prohibition? Why do you think it’ll work better than adapting?

      Since when is making Disney’s copyrights last indefinitely a “for limited Times?” If you don’t believe they’re indefinite, I want to hear your answer on when Congress will stop passing extensions, and saying it isn’t infinite right now is just spin.

      I’m an engineer and a small inventor by trade – how does current intellectual property law help me in the least, when I’m not a big company and face the fact that competitors WILL patent my invention even though I’ve done it first
      (originality checks vanished during Reagan)? How about the fact that current civil court custom makes it infeasible for me to afford to sue or be sued for anything? And it’s only been hurting me that certain kinds of old books which should be public domain aren’t and are infeasible to reprint.

      Why do you think suing all in sight will work for AP when it’s signally failed for RIAA?

  • Matthew Terenzio

    Speaking first hand from a local daily, the Associated Press provides absolutely no value to our online initiatives. In fact they are what I would characterize as the greatest threat to a sustainable online business for newspapers.

  • Pingback: The Cabal: Next Generation, otherwise known as the Associated Press — Shooting at Bubbles

  • http://twitter.com/ravmike Mike

    I see the AP’s demand to pay for linking to their story as the media equivalent of a couple charging for hors d’oeuvres at their wedding reception.

  • Pingback: How (and why) to replace the AP « BuzzMachine « Netcrema - creme de la social news via digg + delicious + stumpleupon + reddit

  • Kevin D.

    AP produces mostly liberal drivel with little insight – not link-worthy anyway!

  • http://seattleposttimes.typepad.com Chuck Taylor

    I wish someone would explain how the AP’s News Registry encapsulation technology will prevent me from copying text displayed in HTML on a member’s Web site and pasting it onto mine. Is there some new invisible W3C tag I don’t know about?

  • fjpoblam

    Doesn’t it boil down to this? Won’t it take more enforcers than users?

  • Pingback: Fresh From Twitter today | zu-web.de

  • Pingback: Kathlyn Clore » Blog Archive » Quoting the AP: Fuhgetaboutit

  • Pingback: links for 2009-07-25 | burningCat

  • Pingback: BlogBuzz July 25, 2009

  • http://www.getdocued.net Julian F. Müller

    I wonder why there are no personalized magazines (newspapers)? In my opinion old big magazines and newspapers worked, because they could cover the interests of many people. Since 20 years now we have an ongoing trend of diversification of interests. I guess fifteen years ago, there were just two major sports in Germany, soccer and tennis. Now everybody is jogging, climbing mountains, riding bike, playing volleyball, water ball, counter-strike, badminton and what god knows else.

    Now, since the interests of people are so diversified – at least in my humble opinion – it is time for personalized magazines. My magazine for instance would consist out of:
    News about Germany: welt.de
    Tech-News: netzwertig.com
    Economics: zhe economist.com, mises.org, cato.org
    E-sport-News: team-liquid.net
    Inspired Talks: http://www.ted.com, getdocued.net
    Foreign Affairs China: foreign magazine, giga institute
    And so on.

    If a news-company just would give me the possibility to compile MY newspaper, I would buy it definitely.
    I just don’t want to buy magazines and papers anymore, which half their content annoys and bores me (Like health, music, cooking stuff). I don’t want to read a magazine which aims at everyone and no one, but I want one which 100% fits my interests. And this shouldn’t be a problem anymore in the days of modern media.

    This idea of personalized papers also has some further advantages:
    1. It nurtures specialization
    2. It gives specialized institutes and blogs a possibility to reach more ppl and earn more money

    What do you think about that idea Mr. Jarvis?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Oh, yes, we see that – online.

      • http://www.getdocued.net Julian F. Müller

        yes, for sure. You can compile ur newspaper via rssfeed. But I wish to have a real paper compiled for me, not just rss-feeds.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          And I wish we all rode horses.

  • foobar2000

    Good riddance AP!

  • Clint Boulton

    I have swiftly jettisoned AP from my blog reader.

  • Pingback: Jackie Hai | Convergence Commons | What an AP alternative could look like

  • Pingback: The Link, the Subscribe and the Open Follow | CloudAve

  • Pingback: Linkpost | 7.25.2009 - L&C Tech Talk

  • Pingback: Linkpost | 7.25.2009 - L&C Tech Talk

  • Pingback: Searching for Revenue in Free Journalism « Connected

  • Pingback: Associated Press vs. Internet « Ameisendorf

  • http://www.download-not-available.com Jim McCarthy

    It just seems like the friction created by needing permission to link to AP stories, even if doing so were free, would mostly just make people stop linking to them.

  • Pingback: Liberal Education Today : Associated Press seeks to increase control over use of its digital content

  • Eric Gauvin

    This is where Jeff Jarvis usually publishes a bunch of other posts so this one gets pushed down… Jeff Jarvis never answers questions directly. Good luck.

  • http://jeffsonderman.blogspot.com Jeff Sonderman

    Agreed, Jeff. I argue that the AP is acting badly because we all know it has no place on the Internet.

  • Paul Evans

    It seems almost oxymoronic to comment on something without quoting or LINKING. Are people supposed to simply take my word that my comment is a fair response to the original subject or argument? I can see how this works for Rush Limbaugh, but how does it work for people who actually want to exchange and then discuss ideas?

    It seems like everyone who wants to make money off the exchange of ideas would like to define fair use in the way that most benefits them — broad or narrow. I suppose that’s just business even if it does twist the letter or the intent of the constitution one way or the other.

    Me, as a former reporter, I’m used to quoting people and documents extensively in order to give everyone a fair say and, especially, if I am attempting to prove a point. It seems to be that APs position is antithetical to the principals of journalism. How does one do journalism without quoting and/or linking to sources? How would reporting be done were one to need a licensing agreement with every individual or agency that provides direct quotes or related material for a story? Does AP have some special status that they should be able to take that unlicensed information and then deny others the right to even refer to it in a demonstrably accurate way?

    One of the things I have heard many newspaper people lament in recent years is the increasing licensing being forced by professional sports and entertainment. Professional sports organizations are limiting what reporters can say and when they can say it. They are hiring their own photographers and blocking access to those from news organizations. Entertainers and their lawyers are more frequently asking for things like first cut on pictures or articles. There have been confirmed incidents of such arrangements being used to limit news reports of things that might be perceived as negative by the sport or entertainer. http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-retail-stores-not/4450808-1.html

    So how is what AP is proposing any different than what Getty and some sports authorities are already doing? And while it may serve AP’s business — which is arguable — it clearly does not promote a fair and accurate exchange of ideas.

    Perhaps it is hogwash to say AP would change the nature of our democracy. However, were one to extend their thinking to its obvious conclusion, then only those with very deep pockets would ever be able to make anything other than a very casual reference to anything said or written by anyone ever.

  • Pingback: Online News: i differenti approcci al Web di Associated Press e di Reuters

  • Rob Levine

    Jeff, I think you have the best of intentions. Always have.

    That said, let’s remember that an expanded definition of fair use would have a significant financial benefit to Google. That’s why Google funded Stanford’s Fair Use project and why it lobbies Congress to undercut copyright law.

    As I see it, Google is using its money and power to undercut my (well, my company’s) copyrights. That directly results in company laying off journalists and the elimination of middle-class jobs. You believe this will result in better journalism and a stronger economy in the long run. Maybe so. So far, though, as technologists talk up the democratizing effects of the online world, the rich keep getting richer and middle-class jobs keep getting destroyed. Let’s at least agree that this is a bad thing.

  • Pingback: How (and Why) to Replace the AP [Voices] | UpOff.com

  • Pingback: A Reuters e o suicídio da Associated Press : Ponto Media

  • http://pagn.us Sean MacDhai

    Jeff, this is a very well written article. I have also been concerned about the AP for some time, to the point of trying to avoid their content at all costs. I have filters in my g-news that removes any AP content. There is plenty of quality, ad supported blogs and small news organizations out there that understand new media, and support it… and thus deserve my support in return.

  • Pingback: Reuters Wins The Web By Default « Around The Sphere

  • Pingback: Darklg Web (darklgweb) 's status on Monday, 27-Jul-09 16:06:32 UTC - Identi.ca

  • Pingback: blogs.kxly.com » Why isn’t the Associated Press breaking news on Twitter?

  • Ashwin Sodhi

    Wow – trying to steer us back on topic…

    Jeff have you heard of Attributor? They’re making some strides in this rev share game — but they’re starting on the other end. Essentially, they’re creating systems compatible with ad networks that allow original content creators to share revenue generated by “other sites” who publish their content. The question still left to be answered is what those secondary source sites/aggregators get in return — the whole story, or just the heads and slugs?

    Interesting approach though. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that there’s a finite number of people who are going to read a story. In scenario A, you publish the full story on the Tribune and only the Tribune, and count on people publishing your headline and link. In scenario B, you publish on the Tribune, but you also allow anyone to publish the full story on their sites.

    If we could equalize the revenue streams coming from both scenarios for BOTH participants, it should be reasonable to expect any rational, non-AP news organization to participate. What i mean is, if the Tribune gets $1000 from visitors who would have come their directly, and that remains constant, but, in scenario B they get an extra $2,000 from visitors coming from inbound links like Politico, they should pay out, say $500 to the linking sites. And, in scenario A, that $2,000 (and the $500 vs. $1500 split) should remain constant, only it’s the reverse syndicators who are paying out the $1500 to the Tribune for allowing it to publish the whole story.

    Sort of a corollary to your thoughts, which, I think were spot on, but may need to be delivered a little more softly for publications to realize they have it in their power to put the last nail in the AP’s coffin….

  • Pingback: Associated Press, chi riprende la notizia (senza autorizzazione) paga | Geek Files - Infiltrati nella Rete

  • http://briancarr.net Brian Carr

    To me the issue is this:
    Publishers like ESPN get $2 or so of our $50 cable TV payment, but publishers like ESPN.com get nothing from our $50 cable broadband payment.

    That’s where the publisher model broke down — and for once the TV folks thought well ahead of the newspaper folks. Exhibit A: Time Magazine is hurting, but Time Warner Cable certainly isn’t.

    Simple solution: A news consortium of NYT, Post, etc should block all Comcast IPs and put up a static message: Your cable provider does not pay to access to our sites. Contact them at (geo-targeted Phone number or link here) to ask why. No need to change any Google inbound links.

    After a day/week of Broadband customer service deluge, they’d capitulate and a portion of what we’re already paying should be allocated to unblock access. Crazy? That’s exactly what Dora the Explorer and Nickelodeon (a “Publisher”) threatened to do to Time Warner a few months back, and they got $40M.

    Would our cable bills go up? Perhaps, but you know the outrage when that happens locally – a-la carte $2 per month news site packages would likely be the likely next first step. Same as Cable TV.

    Cheers, b

    • Andy Freeman

      > After a day/week of Broadband customer service deluge [when “A news consortium of NYT, Post, etc should block all Comcast IPs”], [Comcast would] capitulate and a portion of what we’re already paying should be allocated to unblock access.

      That’s one possibility. Another is that the “deluge” would be in the noise and Comcast wouldn’t notice. Meanwhile, the advertising revenue for each of the participants in the boycott would tank and one by one, said participants would cave to get it back.

      > That’s exactly what Dora the Explorer and Nickelodeon (a “Publisher”) threatened to do to Time Warner a few months back, and they got $40M.

      While both Dora and Tom Friedman are singular entities, I’ve yet to see a single plush of Friedman. Meanwhile, Dora has a complete line of goods.

      I’d like to see the experiment. It’s past time to find out whether anyone actually cares about this so-called exclusive content.

  • Pingback: The Nichepaper Manifesto | Refinancing

  • Pingback: Associated Press, chi riprende la notizia (senza autorizzazione) paga | Fabrizio Savella

  • Pingback:   links for 2009-07-28 — contentious.com

  • Pingback: Executivos não entendem web

  • Pingback: The Nichepaper Manifesto | Erik T. Ford

  • Pingback: Geekazine Podcast Ep 97 - 7-29-09 - More Codes in SOP Contest - Geekazine.com

  • Rick

    Jeff, have you seen Tech Crunch’s re-interpretation of the AP DRM system? It has unicorns!!!

    http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/07/29/aps-rights-management-drm-explained/

  • Pingback: LSDI : Salvare le news (o il controllo sulle news)?

  • Pingback: Il ReteGiornale - la Tua Voce in Rete» Libertà d'informazione » Salvare le news (o il controllo sulle news)?

  • Pingback: Headline Commentary July 20-26 | Health Content Advisors

  • Pingback: In Which Your Blogger Piles On the Associated Press « Reinventing the Newsroom

  • Pingback: Jornalismo testa os limites do uso justo | träsel/blog

  • Pingback: Why I believe in the link economy | iSawNEWS.com

  • Pingback: Freyburg» Blog Archive » Reuters believes in the link economy

  • Pingback: Paper Capers | b r a n t s

  • Pingback: Who, really, is The Associated Press accusing of copyright infringement? » Nieman Journalism Lab

  • Pingback: El desesperado intento de Associated Press por cobrar los links « One Way Or Another

  • http://www.lidadestek.com/ lida

    You say that you want a model that produces revenue for journalists but you’re unwilling to use the same model that everyone else uses. Why shouldn’t journalists be subject to the same economics as everyone else, namely produce something that is worth as much to your customers as you want to make from producing it.

  • Pingback: Remember the beacon? Newly formed … – Nieman Journalism Lab | Journalism

  • Pingback: LSDI : Nasce NewsRight, una piattaforma contro il ‘’furto’’ dei contenuti originali

  • Pingback: NewsRight: A carrot, or a stick to beat aggregators with? — Tech News and Analysis

  • Pingback: NewsRight: A carrot, or a stick to beat aggregators with? | Tech News Aggregator

  • Pingback: Is the AP’s NewsRight a Carrot or a Stick? | Snaggens News

  • Pingback: NewsRight: A carrot, or a stick to beat aggregators with? | TechDiem.com

  • Pingback: AP’s Beacon Spun Off Into “NewsRight”, Reeks Of Hypocrisy And Disgraced “Righthaven” « Mercury Rising ??

  • Pingback: COLOR COPIER TEST CHART | COPIERNETEYE