AP Launching News Industry Campaign To ‘Protect’ News Content

After lengthy discussions during its board meeting in San Diego this weekend, the Associated Press plans to launch what it calls “a news newspaper industry initiative to protect news content from misappropriation.” The announcement (full text after the jump) is a focal point of the AP annual meeting starting now in San Diego, where AP Chairman Dean Singleton plans to tell members: “We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories.” (Note: AP’s language evolved to reflect the news industry, rather than newspapers.)

That doesn’t mean withdrawing licensed content from Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Ask or sliding it all behind pay walls, but finding ways to “retain the value of news,” Sue Cross, AP’s SVP for Global New Media & Media Markets, Americas, told me in advance of the meeting. “Nobody wants to stop web traffic,” she emphasized. But news organizations are looking for ways to make sure their sites benefit from that traffic. (I couldn’t resist suggesting it would help if news organizations didn’t kill their own traffic, as NYTimes.com did when it carried out a link massacre during the switch from IHT.com to the news global edition.) Cross also stressed that this is not about AP content specifically, but about the news industry online.

So what makes this more than a promise to talk more about an issue that’s already getting a lot of attention? Cross admitted there will be a lot more talk: “There’s an agreement to move forward in a lot of areas … [but] there will be a lot of discussion about what’s going to be the right approach on all this.”

First two projects: The first two areas include using AP’s tagging abilities to set up a system to track content online and developing search landing pages. Cross said AP is already “ingesting and tagging most of the newspaper content in the U.S.” Tags would be set up that would help track the progress of stories and even headlines. AP isn’t talking about licensed content. “What we’re really talking about here is much broader use, the commercialization of news that is scraped.”

As for the search pages, the idea is develop pages that point users to the most latest and most authoritative content. Cross said that could have “some tagging, some automation, some editorial thought behind it.”

04/06/2009 / AP Press Release
Updated version

AP Board announces initiative to protect industry