The End of Free

by Roger Pynn

Has The Associated Press fired a shot across the bow of the SS Free? AP is everyone’s news pool … there when the 1400 papers that own it can’t be, covering everything from a cat down a drain in Oshkosh to wars, floods, inaugurations and state funerals.

Now The New York Times reports that AP Pres. Tom Curley says enough is enough … putting Google, Yahoo and all the other news aggregators out there on notice that they are going to put a stop to the unpaid re-use of its content.

The Times reported Curley as saying “If someone can build multibillion-dollar businesses out of keywords, we can build multihundred-million businesses out of headlines, and we’re going to do that.” The Times said Curley said the goal was not to have less use of the news articles, but to be paid for any use.

You have to wonder whether the goal of the AP (itself a nonprofit organization) goes beyond the aggregators and could severely limit blog references and other not-for-profit use of its material.

If AP is successful with its software approach to protecting its members valuable content, does it signal the dawn of an Internet age in which someone has to pay for everything … which no doubt means we all will?

One Response to The End of Free

  1. Manning Pynn says:

    Is that even legal?

    I think it was the philosopher Kristofferson who taught us that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. In that vein, could there be a more patriotic endeavor than the news industry?

    Surely right-minded Americans will rise up and make clear to The AP that, in the interest of democracy, they have no intention of paying for anything.

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