Thursday, May 31, 2007

AP - the "P" stands for copyright police

Uh, Marge. There's two guys in black suits outside the door who want to talk with you -- and they're carrying really large pencils ...

Word comes this morning first from Paid Content and then from AP itself, that the world's largest news service is hooking up with a new "sniffing" (my term) service to track misuse of its stories and photos on the Web.

AP plans to use a digital fingerprinting technology from Attributor Corp. that allows the use of copy to be tracked online. AP says it's the company's first major customer and that Attributor has indexed more than 13 billion Web pages.

AP's general counsel, Srinandan Kasi, says the news cooperative isn't planning a lot of lawsuits. He says the approach will be to try to get violators to pay up. This could get interesting because I come across one or two sites every week that retransmit AP copy (and that I question whether it is licensed). Some of these are journalism groups.

I'm sure there will be some grumbling. But I see an upside to this -- if it ends the silly debate about building walls around news sites. Better for a news organization to stop trying to hunt with that dead dog and use this bloodhound to help maximize its revenue.

Attributor, led by a former Yahoo executive, has raised $10 million in VC financing. Wouldn't it be nice if the newspaper industry had put its efforts into coming up with something like this?

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