Entertainment

AP creates news registry to guard online content

The Associated Press, the largest U.S. wire service, will create a news registry to track how all its content is used online.

The Associated Press, the largest U.S. wire service, will create a news registry to track how all its content is used online.

AP said it is attempting to stop misappropriation of its articles by search engines and websites that do not pay for the service.

The wire service said it has developed what it calls a "microformat" that will put a digital permissions framework on each news story. The software will allow any publisher to specify how content is used online and to monitor usage.

AP plans to begin using the format with its own stories, starting with text and then later video and pictures. It then plans to roll it out industry-wide, offering it to its 6,700 members by early next year so they can protect their own content.

AP clients, including the CBC, pay a fee to use material from the wire service, but many search engines and other sites take such material without payment. Google struck a deal with AP three years ago to use its online content, but other web sources may take material without permission.

Jane Seagrave, AP's senior vice-president for global product development, told Agence France-Presse that the standard is flexible and could be used by a lot of people. The software's first task is to understand what happens to content and to follow it, she said.

"The enforcement is separate," she said. "This is not primarily an enforcement action."

The North American newspaper industry is suffering from declining revenues as both ads and readers migrate to the web.

"What we are building here is a way for good journalism to survive and thrive," said Dean Singleton, chairman of AP's board of directors.

AP spends millions of dollars gathering news around the globe, but newspapers are putting pressure on the wire service to lower its fees.

"The AP news registry will allow our industry to protect its content online, and will assure that we can continue to provide original, independent and authoritative journalism at a time when the world needs it more than ever," Singleton said in a release.

The microformat has been accepted by Media Standards Trust, a London-based nonprofit that promotes high standards of journalism.

With files from The Associated Press

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