The AP was complaining about Google News and the linking to stories was denying them revenue. Reuters MediaFile blog is carrying a column by Chris Ahearn, President of Media entitled, “Why I believe in the link economy.” Some points he makes are that if you link and attribute, he has no complaint, and attacking new players and suing everyone is like what the music industry is doing, and rhetorically asks how it is working for them.
The news industry is going through a MAJOR transformation, in a manner that hasn’t hit it since the original wire services involved themselves in the market in the late 19th century. But the AP is foolish, they aren’t at risk.
The model for news has been, a few wire services publish information, AP being dominate, and UPI and later Reuters being competition, and a few other services provided the global and national coverage. Most local news markets bought their national/international feeds instead of sending out reporters, leaving them to add a little local flavor and advertising.
The fact is, the AP has the product people want, the news story. The “editorial” provided by local media to pick and choose which wire stories to run may seem important to people in the industry, but seems like minimal value add, especially since bloggers and other people seem willing to do it for free.
Mr. Ahearn suggests that public discussion as to what is a reasonable quotation and other codes of conduct seems perfectly reasonable. The term Fair Use is intentionally broad, left to the courts to interpret, and therefore causes lawsuit adverse people to shirk back from. Publishing a reasonable usage guideline could include Fair Use rules, and most people will behave if you are reasonable.
Reuters and the AP have the product people want, and it isn’t them in danger if they are smart. Threatening to sue bloggers and Google is foolish, building your own advertising model makes sense. The Internet cuts out middlemen, Reuters isn’t the middle man, the local paper is. I expect the local papers with news feeds are going to die out, and ultra-local papers covering city and regional issues without national feeds, no subscription model, and advertisements for local pizza shops are the future of local news… and that’s okay.
Reuters collecting a lot of links helps them with traffic and search engine ranks, and gives them the ability to build a real business model online, the death of local papers in smaller markets seems to be okay, if there is a demand for local news, a business will materialize.