Associated Press is suing a digital news agency, claiming that it uses unlicensed content without paying licence fees. AP, which claims to be the world’s biggest news agency, said on Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit against Meltwater News in a district court in Manhattan. Meltwater News allows its clients to monitor breaking news stories from around the world, including content from AP and other agencies. AP is seeking an injunction and substantial damages from Meltwater News in the copyright infringement action. Tom Curley, outgoing chief executive of AP, accused Meltwater News of a “parasitic” use of content produced by news agencies. AP claimed in its court filing that Meltwater News refuses to pay licence fees for the content it allows users to monitor in the US. The Norway-based firm also has a “vast archive” of AP stories dating back to 2007 which users can store and access despite them not being available online, according to the filing. AP has fought a long-running battle against websites and search engines listing its content. In 2009, the agency went head-to-head with Google over its Google News index, but has since struck licensing deals with the search giant and other internet portals such as Yahoo and AOL.
The Pentagon has agreed to revise some of the rules that have restricted what journalists are free to report on from Guanta’namo Bay, resolving a conflict that peaked in May when four reporters were expelled from the naval base there. The military informed news organizations of the new rules on Friday after lengthy discussions between the Pentagon’s public affairs division and lawyers for media outlets including The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Miami Herald. In a compromise, the public affairs office has agreed not to ask reporters to withhold information that has been deemed privileged by the military if such information has already been in the public domain. This was the central issue in the case involving the four reporters who were barred after they printed the name of a former Army interrogator who was a witness against a Canadian citizen accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan and detained at Guanta’namo. The interrogator’s name had been mentioned in many press accounts of the case, but a military judge had declared his name protected information. The revised policy now specifies that reporters will not be considered in violation of the rules if what they report “was legitimately obtained” in the course of newsgathering done outside Guanta’namo. The Pentagon has also agreed to work more closely with journalists before deleting photos and video taken at the naval base. Every image brought to Guanta’namo on a camera — regardless of whether it was taken there or not — is subject to review by military censors. The Pentagon has also agreed for the first time to allow journalists to formally challenge in writing decisions by the public affairs office. Previously, there was little recourse for journalists if they were denied information from the Pentagon or told they could not report something.
CNN said Monday that it’s no longer using Associated Press content after the two sides could not agree on a contract extension. The AP confirmed that the two news organizations differed on terms for licensing AP stories, photos, video and other content beyond the June 30 expiration of the existing contract. CNN has been an AP customer since the cable network launched in 1980. AP and CNN officials would not comment on why the talks broke down or how much the expiring contract was worth. CNN has a new arrangement with Reuters, an AP competitor owned by Thomson Reuters Corp., to supplement breaking news coverage. Walton also said CNN will be expanding the staff of CNN Wires, a service it has been developing for sale to other news organizations. With traditional media companies facing an advertising slump and rising competition on the Web, the AP has come under pressure from its members to cut rates. It lowered its fees for U.S. newspapers by USD 30m in 2009 and plans a USD 45m cut for newspapers and broadcasters this year. CNN, which is owned by the media conglomerate Time Warner Inc., faces its own challenges. It has struggled to compete in prime-time ratings, with cable news watchers turning to more opinionated shows on other cable TV networks. Nielsen Co. said CNN’s weekday prime-time viewership during the first three months of the year was down 42 percent from 2009
The AP Stylebook has released its new social media guidelines, including the official change from”Web site” to “website” (a move first reported back in April) and 41 other definitions, use cases and rules that journalists should follow. Among the more interesting changes – at least from a grammar and style standpoint – are separating out “smart phone” as two words, hyphenating “e-reader,” and allowing fan, friend and follow to be used both as nouns and verbs. Beyond that, the AP has also defined a number of acronyms that are commonly used in texting and instant messaging. Elsewhere, other terms making the cut include “trending,” “retweet” and “unfriend” (“defriend” is also acceptable, though the AP concludes it’s less common). Finally, the AP also offers some basic rules of thumb for how social media should and shouldn’t be used by journalists, with a focus on making sure they continue to confirm sources and information they find on blogs, tweets and other forms of social media. The full 2010 AP Stylebook, which includes the new social media guidelines, was released Wednesday and is available on the AP’s Web site
The Associated Press’ News Registry, the bundle of software that will tag and track AP content on other sites to make sure that it is not being used without permission or payment, is launching on July 14. More than 200 member newspapers partners signed up for the Registry’s beta test since it was announced last April. By July 14, the slated launch date, more than 600 publishers will be using the system. The AP and its member newspapers argue that unauthorized use of their content is costing them tens of millions of dollars in potential advertising revenue. They hope the News Registry will help them police infractions from other news sites, blogs and other online content hubs
The Associated Press has signed a licensing deal with Yahoo Inc. that gives the news cooperative a steady stream of revenue at a time less money is flowing in from newspapers and broadcasters. The announcement by both companies Monday didn’t disclose the financial terms of the agreement, which allows Yahoo to continue posting AP content on its site. The AP says it is still negotiating to renew its online licensing agreements with two other companies with far deeper pockets, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Google stopped posting fresh AP content on its Web site in late December. Stung by the AP’s first downturn in revenue in years, AP’s management has said the cooperative needs to make more money from the online rights to its stories, photographs and video as more people flock to the Web for information and entertainment. It’s unclear whether the AP achieved its financial objectives in the Yahoo deal.
Google News has stopped hosting new articles from the Associated Press the search giant confirmed Monday, in a sign that contract negotiations between the two companies may have broken down. A source search for “The Associated Press” on Google News doesn’t return any stories dated after Dec. 23, 2009. “We have a licensing agreement with the Associated Press that permits us to host its content on Google properties such as Google News. Some of that content is still available today,” a Google spokesman said in an email statement. “At the moment we’re not adding new hosted content from the AP.” Google would not elaborate on that statement, and the AP declined to comment on the situation. Reports say the AP has been hashing out a new licensing contract with Google, which has hosted the news agency’s content since August 2007. Google News displays stories from content providers around the globe, some of whom have negotiated licensing deals with Google, like the AP, while others have not. This is the latest development in a shifting news landscape, as publishers are considering whether to restrict Google’s access to their content.