AP declares war on copyright breakers

ONE of the world’s largest news agencies, Associated Press, has declared war on news aggregators, pledging to send an army of lawyers after those who breach its copyright.

A board meeting last week agreed AP should take “all actions necessary” to thwart those who breached its copyright, said chairman Dean Singleton at a press conference overnight.

“We must be paid fully and fairly,” he declared in remarks aimed predominantly at websites that aggregate news, as well as search engines.

AP will also cut its rates by 20 per cent, according to a report in the San Francisco Business Times. The not-for-profit agency is under pressure with many American newspapers looking to drop the service as part of cost-cutting actions. It generated more than US$700 million in revenue last year, according to the Business Times.

Mr Singleton said AP would invest in web-crawling software to track down those who broke copyright and ensure existing clients had appropriate licensing agreements for the way in which they used AP copy, photography and multimedia.

American website CBC said AP had already shown its litigious side by taking a number of companies and individuals to court.

Some might think Google would be one of AP’s first target, though Google at least does not.

The AP strategy drew Google out of its bunker. Its associate general counsel, Alexander Macgillivray, wrote in a post: “We host those articles in partnership with AP.” He argued Google showed only a headline and very limited text, which was permissible under US copyright law.

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