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AP to Charge Members to Post Content Online 171

oboreruhito writes "The Associated Press has announced that, effective Jan. 1 2006, it 'will begin charging newspapers and broadcasters to post its stories, photos and other content online.' The article says online portals that are already subscribed to an online service won't be affected; the change is that newspapers and broadcasters, which have had the privilege of posting online at no extra charge over their usual licensing fees for print or TV, now have to pay extra. How will this affect sites like Google News and Fark?"
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AP to Charge Members to Post Content Online

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  • Re:Google and Fark? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @02:08PM (#12284036) Journal
    If AP charges newspapers and so on for posting its content online, they will pass that cost on to the consumers.

    However, most people get their news from Fark, Slashdot, Google News, Yahoo News, and other news congregation sites. With linking, users of those sites would have to pay to read the article. Hence, the newspapers will pass the cost to consumers via Google and Fark. Some might use an ad-based model, but most will use a subscription model.

    And if these newspapers use a yearly subscription model, you can be sure some generous people will post their usernames and passwords via BugMeNot.
  • Google/Fark (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Barking Dog ( 599515 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @02:11PM (#12284064) Homepage

    This decision won't affect Google and Fark at all, since they simply link to other sites that post the AP's content. It will affect Yahoo! News, since they do post original AP content.

    BTW, it's a PITA to use the AP's content. I used their feed to add headlines to the site for a TV station [kezi.com]. They can't just have an XML feed; noooo, they have to post XML-formatted articles to a usenet server, adding an extra layer of complexity. You have to fetch the most recent post from the headline group, parse it for the links to the articles, then fetch the articles, then parse them for links to the image content, then fetch those articles, then parse them for the image content, which has to then be watermarked with the AP logo (or labeled directly underneath the picture; running it through ImageMagick to add the watermark was easier). (And to make matters worse, I had to write the stuff to do this in Perl running on Windows.)

  • Re:Fark? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @02:28PM (#12284233) Journal
    That would be cool. Just nice, quiet life. Hmmm...life...arggle...drool...
  • Same Ol' From AP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trifthen ( 40989 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @02:28PM (#12284236) Homepage
    To be honest, this doesn't really surprise me. I work for a company that provides newspaper-centric ISP services, and we've fought with AP for years over feeds, images, you name it. We host many of their partners, and we reduce the overal bandwidth between us and AP by doing a single aggregate feed which is only enabled for genuine AP-carriers. Yet time after time, we've had to argue with AP over the article posting rights of their own customers.

    This is yet another kink they're throwing into the mix, as now we have to know which of the AP partners have actually paid for online publishing rights. This will likely irritate our programmers, and probably reduce the amount of our customers re-publishing AP data, but that's about it.

    Personally, I don't understand the point of publishing AP online if you're a local paper, anyway. Often this data isn't differentiated from the paper's own articles, and ends up getting archived as such. Many papers these days require registration or pay-access to their archives, which are now diluted with articles that have been replicated thousands of times over by newspapers all over the country.
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @02:51PM (#12284525)
    While sites like drudge might switch, I don't think many newspapers would stop using stories from AP just because they have to pay extra to put them online. The larger ones will just pay the license fee and continue. For the smaller ones this will likely be the final straw that makes them realise that their online presence isn't making any money anyway. This will cause them to scale back to just posting local, self-written news or can their website altogether.

    And honestly I think that is inevitable. There simply isn't any demand for hundreds of online news sites that all just regergitate AP and Reuters stories. These newspapers need to realise that once they go online they are competing with every major news source in the world. If they can't provide something unique then they will fail, and deserve to.

    I don't think it's going to be long untill the major wires actually close their content to subscribers only.

    They will only do that when it becomes a viable business model. People keep saying that subscription services cannot be profitable for online news services, because customers will not tolerate them - they will just move to another site. But that is assuming that all of these sites will have the same news - which is only valid so long as the wires maintain a liberal policy regarding posting their content online.

    On the extreme end, if all the wires flat-out prohibited posting of their content online (or make it very expensive), then their online subscription would suddenly be very viable and lucrative. However this might anger the large newpapers enough that they turn to another wire, and therefore it will not happen soon. As (if) the newspapers become shrink in importance (and sales) and online news becomes more important, then the wires will have the motivation and leverage to become more and more restrictive regarding online posting of content. As they do so more and more news sites will die, until the only ones left are the ones that actually create content (wires & analysts), not just regergitate it. At this point subscription would be a viable model for the wires as they are no longer competing with their customers.

    Of course blogs are a possible kink in this scenario. The wires won't be able to shut down every blog that reposts its stories. Will blogs be usefull news sources if they become shut down as soon as they become popular? Will cleverly run blogs be able to get away with rewording every AP article that they post? If so then subscription will not be a viable model for the wires, and things will likely stay just as they are.
  • by surfcow ( 169572 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @03:03PM (#12284696) Homepage
    Reuters must be happy. It's about to gain a serious foot up on AP.

    What were they thinking?
  • by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @03:07PM (#12284748) Homepage Journal
    They can't just have an XML feed; noooo, they have to post XML-formatted articles to a usenet server, adding an extra layer of complexity.

    Ha! You think that's annoying? You should have seen their file formats before they moved to XML. In the early 90's, I had to write an NT service that would listen to their news feed and properly classify incoming stories. Based on what I had to deal with there, I can only conclude that they entered their story headers by means of repeatedly striking a keyboard with a spastic orangtan.

    Well, OK, it wasn't quite that bad. I would have killed to have gotten the data in a semi-reasonable format like XML, though.

  • Re:Google and Fark? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @05:05PM (#12286082)
    It's not that Fark and Google News will have to pay for the content - that's obvious. But the pool of stories online will shrink as profit-conscious newspapers and broadcasters stop reposting AP stories. The same stories will be available, either through other wire services or through online services that pay for it, but fewer people may notice.

    Smaller newspapers' Web sites will get hurt more than anything, though, as they'll have to rely almost entirely on local content to drive traffic, or barf up more money to the AP to repost what's in their newspaper. Those PDF-style ePapers (the ones that completely reproduce the full print product, including layout and ads, online) may disappear from a lot of newspapers, too.

    And finally, by charging license fees, AP may start getting testier about sites that don't pay the fees but link to stories and excerpts of stories on sites that do, such as Google News and Fark. Papers that currently don't require registration or subscriptions may start doing so to discourage linking.

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