Friday, July 22, 2005

AP fee increase

Was AP listening when the shots started being fired earlier this year after the wire service said it would begin charging for online use of its content? Maybe.

The AP now has approved the fee -- and it's rolled it into a general 2.2 percent increase for members. Skip the PR about this being the lowest increase in 35 years except for the 2.2 percent in 1999, etc. etc. The AP has used a tried-and-true business strategy: bury the cost details. That way, those like the Scripps execs who want to snipe at the online costs have a tougher time.

Smart, but it will be interesting to see the reception to this strategy in our emerging a la carte world. AP's coupling the increase with an online licensing plan that allows members to use AP stories, photos, etc., across "the Web, wireless services and RSS feeds. Guidelines will be established for those wanting to use AP content in other ways."

Buried in the release is this paragraph:
As part of the licensing plan, AP will implement a new framework for enforcing intellectual property rights. The framework calls for cooperative monitoring and enforcement through the use of various digital protection strategies, as well as licensed access for third-party news engines wanting to display AP content.

This bears closer watching. First, it appears to be another shot across the bow of Google News. Second, what DRM schemes will AP use to try to control its content?

AP announced in the same news release that it is starting an ad-supported video feed with its own branded video player. It's playing catch-up to Reuters in that, although Reuters uses Real, not a branded player. Also unlike Reuters, the release indicates AP will stick with its model of making such feeds available only through its members' Web sites.

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