OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 01/17/2012 By Mark Glaser & Desiree Everts

Publishers launch NewsRight licensing scheme

Three years ago, the Associated Press launched its News Registry to help publishers track and tag all AP content to ensure compliance with its terms of use. Now, the AP is giving more heft to that effort with its recent announcement of NewsRight. The AP launched NewsRight, together with a group of news organizations including the New York Times and the Washington Post, as a way to keep tabs on their content and license it to other sites and services. NewsRight encodes stories with hidden data to track the spread of the content; the encoded stories then report back to the registry to show where and how a story is being used. The new entity will be headed up by David Westin, the former head of ABC News. “NewsRight is designed to address an issue in the marketplace of an increased appetite for news but some real challenges to supply,” Westin told Mashable’s Zoe Fox. “There is a flaw in the business model right now. Value is not going to those who pay, and we want to correct the imbalance.” 

But GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram was skeptical of the new entity, pointing to the AP’s long history of controversies with the “digital news ecosystem,” such as its battles with Google and other sites over the use of its content. (The AP threatened to sue Google in 2007.) It “raises questions about whether the registry is designed to be a carrot or a club with which to beat aggregators it believes are ‘stealing’ its content,” he wrote. It doesn’t help that NewsRight is headed by a lawyer, but Westin has sought to assure folks that the organization isn’t out to make money through copyright wars. “We really are interested in entering into business relationships and contracts. We’re not a litigation shop,” he told paidContent’s Staci Kramer. But will the new venture help bring in more much-need revenue to news organizations? So far, that’s hard to say. But as Poynter’s Rick Edmonds pointed out, “Even middling success would count as a big win for the legacy companies who have long wanted to be paid more and more broadly for the news content they originate.”