A.P. Cracks Down on Unpaid Use of Articles on Web

The Associate Press has for some time claimed that people should pay for reprinting the title of an AP article and linking to the full text. I stopped quoting from AP stories when the AP claimed bloggers needed a license to quote more than 5 words from an AP story.  (Keep both of these things in mind, if you have students post research projects online!) 

Now they’re announcing plans to do what looks to me like gaming the search engines. I hope Google and other search engines account for this practice, and penalize search results from organizations that trample on the principle of fair use in such an outrageous manner.

I can completely understand a position that states web authors don’t have the right to copy the full text without permission. The fair use defense in copyright law does not apply if a critic or commentator reuses more than 10% of a work  But this new policy goes well beyond existing copyright law.

Each article — and, in the future, each picture and video — would go out with what The A.P. called a digital “wrapper,” data invisible to the ordinary consumer that is intended, among other things, to maximize its ranking in Internet searches. The software would also send signals back to The A.P., letting it track use of the article across the Web.
Newspaper executives have said that by taking the lead, The A.P. ensures a unified approach, saves publishers from having to design their own software and circumvents possible charges of collusion against the papers. — Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times