Associated Press Chief Tom Curley threatens a news blackout. Will Google flinch?
If Associated Press Chief Executive Tom Curley’s remarks this week about Google reflect the tenor of the talks between the two, discussions can’t be going well.
The AP and Google have been debating content and compensation issues for months. In an interview with Forbes on Wednesday, Curley warned that if Google doesn’t strike the right deal with the AP soon, “They will not get our copy going forward.”
The threat follows Rupert Murdoch’s accusation earlier this month that Google is committing copyright thievery when it borrows material from news stories to assemble search rankings. A few days later, the AP weighed in with a similar charge–though it did not mention Google–announcing a content protection initiative and threatening legal and legislative action against news aggregators.
The AP, a 163-year-old cooperative owned by news organizations, won’t discuss its talks with Google, but plans to create landing pages and Web-based “news maps” directing users to original AP stories (and away from secondary sources who post material “borrowed” from the AP). To do this, the AP needs Google’s help. Most likely that means Google creating search protocols similar to those created from the licensing deal the AP inked with Google in 2006.
Since that deal was struck, Google has paid the AP undisclosed fees to carry AP content on the Google News section of the site. Search rankings on Google News give priority to recognizable news brands like the AP. But Google applies no such algorithmic discretion to general searches. The broader search rankings spread AP content out across the Web, says Curley, encouraging misappropriation by other sites. Curley wants Google to “protect content from unauthorized use and pay us for the longtail.” By “longtail,” Curley refers to the thousands of small sites that collectively drive vast herds of traffic using AP content.
A lot has changed online since the AP’s initial license deal with Google was struck. Is Curley’s threat a re-boot of an earlier tactic? The 2006 agreement with Google was reached only after the AP threatened to sue Google for infringement, says Curley. “They threw us a bone,” he says. Now he wants the rest of the meal.