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AP Proposes ASCAP-Like Fees For the News 146

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the words-words-words dept.
eldavojohn writes "Techdirt directed my attention to an article where the AP discussed pressure from new devices and mediums today giving them cause to create a clearinghouse for news — much like the music industry's ASCAP — to 'establish an enforcement and payment system.' You'll notice that the story I am linking to and quoting is an AP story ... would Slashdot then be required to pay these fees? We have seen DMCA take down notices and fee discussions before from the AP."
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AP Proposes ASCAP-Like Fees For the News

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  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:37AM (#33972716) Journal

    ...with the gun in their own mouth. If this goes through, it'll be the last nail in the coffin of classic news.

    • I wouldn't bet on that outcome; most people get their news from traditional news sources right now, and most of them would never perceive the fees that the AP wants to charge. This is a move by the AP to find new ways to extract money, that's all -- it is an attack on newer forms of news delivery, which might threaten the AP, before they become too popular.
    • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:29AM (#33973230) Homepage

      I keep hearing this, but what do you plan on replacing traditional news with? You may not have noticed, but all the bloggers and sites like Slashdot or Reddit? They're all aggregators. They don't investigate news in any traditional sense. They troll around newspaper and news sites and read stuff. If they're a full on aggregator like /. then they just post links to the stuff they read (or that people submitted to them). If they're a blogger then they write an opinion piece and share the info out. When a liberal or conservative blogger "breaks a story" it just means that they read it in some local newspaper. They were the first nationally read source to break the story, but mostly they didn't actually create it. With a very, very small number of exceptions (usually where some source calls a blogger and gives them info), these guys don't produce news. They consume it and regurgitate it at you (Which sounds really gross, I didn't necessarily mean that in a bad way).

      If traditional news sources disappear, there will be no revolution where "new media" wanks will take over and do thing better and more accurately. They will have nothing to comment on. There will be no news for them to "break". Real investigative news requires a staff and a budget. You can't fly to Afghanistan to report on the ongoing war effort using the money you got from Google ad-sense this month. You can't run a month long investigate effort into discovering that the local government is embezzling the city retirement fund when you have to produce a new blog entry twice a day to pay the bandwidth bill.

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:01AM (#33973666)

        I keep hearing this, but what do you plan on replacing traditional news with?

        Nothing?

        There's maybe one news story a week that I actually care about outside my own community, so I honestly can't see what I'd miss if 'traditional news' vanished tomorrow. Do I really need to know that the new Celebrity Chainsaw Massacre competitor has a bit of a cold today, or read regurgitated press releases that I could find direct on the web?

        • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:33AM (#33974164)
          Granted there's a lot of crap out there. But it costs a lot of money to have somebody camped out at town hall in case something happens, likewise for covering congressional issues at the state and federal level. Not to mention all the investigation and work it takes to uncover a story and separate it from the stories that don't pan out.

          The bigger issue you're pointing at is the 24 hour news cycle, even with all the technology and resources available, there just isn't 164 hours worth of news each week. Even if you discount for the commercial breaks, there's more time than there is news to cover.

          Ultimately, the scariest thing is that we won't know what we're missing because nobody will be there to dig it up.
          • by roc97007 (608802)

            Just wondering, how does wikileaks and groklaw do it? What's their business model?

          • If 24 hour news networks regularly broadcasted in depth, unbiased looks at the issues today, they might actually be a wonderful source of information to the public. I know that during the health care debate, it would've been extremely helpful to send reporters out into the field to interview everyone from patients to nurses to doctors to hospital administration to insurance company CEOs to the insurance company grunts to the drug company CEOs to researchers at those companies who actually develop new drugs
          • by VShael (62735)

            Ultimately, the scariest thing is that we won't know what we're missing because nobody will be there to dig it up.

            That's the case now, actually.

        • Well put. Let us filter our own news. I'm tired of being fed the news as if I'm not eating enough vegetables. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roc97007 (608802)

        > I keep hearing this, but what do you plan on replacing traditional news with?

        I don't plan on replacing it with anything. I'm saying that requiring payment for a service that has been ad supported for decades, at a time when distrust of said service has never been higher, is suicide. What replaces it, if anything, the market will decide.

        • What replaces it, if anything, the market will decide.

          Sadly, you're probably right. And what will replace it will be paid advertisement, government propaganda, and ignorance. Hooray! The free market works again!

          For those who love the free market, just remember three limit points that it always devolves to: If an individual has no immediate incentive to pay for it, no one gets it - even if it is in everybody's best long-term interest - because humans are social only up to a point; The market provides ine

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            > Sadly, you're probably right. And what will replace it will be paid advertisement, government propaganda, and ignorance. Hooray! The free market works again!

            And that's different from now in what way?

      • I think the parent's point isn't that AP is good or bad, just that this doesn't sound like a good idea.

        AP is making the same stupid mistake that others have made over and over again. At a 20% cut they don't want, whats coming to them, they want to be the App Store of News.

      • by mounthood (993037)
        A few points: 1) Organizations/Governments/etc.. want people to know about things and will learn to get their message out if the press fails to spread the word. 2) Most "news" is trite nothings and we're better off without it. 3) Investigations will be even more valuable when there people aren't sold "soft news" and told it's all they need to know. Investigations are also easier to monetize and attribute.
  • Donation Link needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:50AM (#33972826)
    How about instead of copyrighting news, just put a donation link [paypal.com] at the beginning of the story with a sentence reading, "Reporters who contributed to this story do not work for free. In order to continue enjoying reading stories like this, please consider a small donation to keep our business running. We appreciate you as a reader and thank you for your kind contribution!"

    Maybe that would work better?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      Donations do not work well like this. They work well for massive fundraising, but as for a steady income? Forget about it. The product (the new story) is consumed and forgotten about. When I ran my own forum for my own niche interest, if I needed to upgrade something, I put out the word, and I would say only 1 or 2 users stepped up and gave 90+% of the donation money, and the others either gave nothing or cheaped out the other 10%. As the site got bigger (more followers), one would think it got better

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        That's a serious problem, but worse is that there's pressure already on papers to not cover certain subjects because people don't want to hear about it. If they had to go out and ask for donations directly, I suspect that it would get even worse. As it is a paper doesn't have to be popular with every article, just contribute something of value over the aggregate of the years issues. With donations, I'm not so sure that would be the same method of doing business.
      • Donations work pretty well for public radio. My local NPR station has a fundraising drive every quarter. They manage to raise about 2-3 million dollars every time this way. It is work though, and requires a lot of preparation and harassment of the listeners. Not to mention that it only covers about 60% of their budget, with the large majority of the rest coming from contributions from corporations. There has been some talk for newspapers to copy this model.

        Here's the issue though: it requires people to care

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by udoschuermann (158146)

      Donations could work if micro-payments were fast, easy, and efficient: I get my news from all over the web, so it doesn't make sense for me to donate significant sums (say $10 or $25). But donating 10 cents with a quick click would not feel like a waste or a burden to me; I'd donate 10 cents on impulse all the time if I knew that it would actually end up in the intended recipient's pockets.

      It's tough to be appropriately rewarding in such a sea of uncertainty and flux.

  • I'd like to think this would encourage more of the smaller news websites to get actual reporters out there, rather than just being news aggregators. It would be a shot in the arm for the industry, create jobs, and provide us with more varied reporting instead of having the same story repeated 10k times.

    • I'd like to think this would encourage more of the smaller news websites to get actual reporters out there, rather than just being news aggregators. It would be a shot in the arm for the industry, create jobs, and provide us with more varied reporting instead of having the same story repeated 10k times.

      Since they're comparing this to the fees that are charged by ASCAP [ascap.com], for say a bar to play recorded music for its patrons, I would imagine your assumption would be equivalent to a bar wanting to play Metallica for its patrons and instead of paying the $400 a year (and I'm just taking a stab at this, I think it depends on the size of the bar and frequency of music) they go out, put together a band, have them write their own music, record it for the bar and then the bar plays it for the patrons. Now, when you

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        I see where you're coming from, but Slashdot isn't really a good example to use...by design, it's mostly a news aggregator, and it's presented as such.

        In my OP, I'm referring to news sites that are aggregators, but present themselves as news sites.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        The main problem with ASCAP is that there's a blackbox and nobody really knows how the money gets distributed and none of the artists really know if they're getting a fair deal. But the idea of ASCAP isn't really that bad. It gives bars and such a convenient way of licensing music without having to negotiate with hundreds of producers over thousands of pieces of music. You pay the fee and you get to use a huge catalog of selections.

        Depending upon the terms of this, the AP doing this could ultimately be g
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098)

          The problem with ASCAP is that it considers itself the rightful collector for any music being played, without checking whether that music is part of the ASCAP catalog. This means that bars can find themselves faced with paying an ASCAP fine or challenge the fine in the court of law - which is more expensive than the ASCAP fine.

          An organization like this will turn into a racket just like ASCAP has. I can tolerate this for music - I can live without live music - but I won't tolerate this for news.

  • Flawed logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by multisync (218450) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:58AM (#33972910) Journal

    You'll notice that the story I am linking to and quoting is an AP story ... would Slashdot then be required to pay these fees?

    ASCAP exists to collect royalties for creative works. "News" articles are a collection of facts (at least that's what they are supposed to be), and those facts are not copyrightable. This is the reason in the old days news papers busted their asses trying to "scoop" on another. They knew once the information was out there, it was fair game for anyone to report on it.

    Opinion columns, features, photos etc are a different matter. But simply reporting the fact that AP has cooked up a hair-brained scheme to try to extract money out of Google - and linking to your source for that "fact" - wouldn't require a royalty payment in any sane copyright law.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      ...simply reporting the fact that AP has cooked up a hair-brained scheme to try to extract money out of Google - and linking to your source for that "fact" - wouldn't require a royalty payment in any sane copyright law.

      Welcome to America. I take it this is your first time visiting our lands?

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The fact that an event happened can not be copyrighted. A particular description of an event is not a fact, and can be copyrighted. And that has nothing to do with why newspapers try to scoop each other. They do that because they want people to buy their paper, and being first with the news is a good way to make that happen.

  • I couldn't think of a better name for a group of clueless individuals if I tired.
  • The clearinghouse also intends to fight piracy by relying on a tracking system, called a “news registry,” that the AP began developing more than a year ago.

    Besides detecting unauthorized use of content, the registry’s tagging system can provide insights about the people who are viewing content or the frequency with which a specific company or expert is mentioned in news coverage.

    I value my privacy. My preferences are my opinions, my decisions, and my content. Perhaps they should be paying me for use of my preferences...after all I am the original content producer here!

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:09AM (#33973020)

    reporting news outside the comfort of our homes does cost money. I don't like ASCAP because they usually go ape-shit over stuff like how many radios you have in your workplace or the radio station you play as your music on hold.

    I do like the idea of a non-profit being a clearinghouse for news reports and media outlets including bloggers can become paying members and as such have access to the late-breaking news first. This can be done without threatening anyone's fair use rights, and allow reporters in the field to continue to have the necessary resources they need.

  • Old business model (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EriktheGreen (660160) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:15AM (#33973078) Journal

    I'm pretty much convinced that the current generation of managers and corporate officers in media companies are just not capable of changing enough to forge a new business model in the internet age.

    A while ago I would have predicted that they'd eventually have to give up their attempts to slow the change, or to find ways to keep their pay for content models working the same way, and eventually start experimenting to find something new or listen to their younger, more flexible peers.

    Now, however, I'm thinking that they just can't change... change in their companies won't happen without a rollover of management, like in so many other organizations run by the "me" generation. They won't give up and they won't give in. They'll have to die off.

    More to the point of the article, I predict if all news articles get charged for from the wire services, there'll be a period of rampant ignoring of the fee, followed by a period of cut and paste disguising of the origin of an article, or paraphrasing to hide a source, followed by independent sourcing of news from readers local to a story, and maybe eventually a new kind of news reporter, whose business model I don't know, but who travels the world collecting news to publish on the Internet.

    Maybe in some part of all this we'll get back to unbiased, true news reporting and not political spin. I hope so.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      So what do you suggest they do? Listen to their 'younger, more flexible peers'? Who would that be? Where is this source of news from younger, more flexible peers?

      • It's hard to draw a line arbitrarily, given the varying skills of new graduates, but most folks coming out of the better business schools in the last 6-8 years have a good handle on what works in the Internet age.

        Of course, it'll be years until enough of the old guard retire from officer positions in the really big media companies for the newer generation to get a chance to run things...

    • They cannot change. The entire business model of the last couple of centuries has been altered drastically. Their existing models is founded and based on how things USED to work, that no longer work. They are dead and dying. This is nothing more than the buggy whip manufacturers in the age of automobiles. They cannot change their model because what they are selling is no longer needed.

      This isn't to say that news isn't needed, because we're getting news. It is just that it is unfiltered, unedited and raw. We

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Are you really that naive? The second link just ran a little longer and showed some people with cameras. How do you know that if your supposedly 'raw, unfiltered, and uneditted' footage started earlier or ran even longer it wouldn't show something else that changed the situation even more?

        As for calling that second link 'news' - are you kidding? All you can get from that video is that some children, somewhere, were throwing rocks at a car, and the car hit one of them, and people were filming it. Where w

        • Ask yourself this:

          Your questions regarding the second source, did you ask the same questions of the first?

          Because the basic information you're asking is the same. I'm not the naive one, I question everything, which is how I found the analysis article that gives a better expose' of what really happened that day.

          • by bws111 (1216812)

            Of course you should ask yourself the same questions in either case. No-one disputes that. What I do dispute is your suggestion that the first link is no longer needed, because we have the second one. The second link is no more trustworthy than the first one. In fact, since it is on a site called 'hipsterjew' I am very inclined to suspect that the version it presents is somewhat more biased than the first one (not that it is necessarily wrong, but somehow I suspect that if the roles in that video were r

            • I never said the first article is not needed, but rather is misleading at best, and worst is pure propaganda.

              "Car Fleeing Palestinian Rock Attack strikes boy" doesn't incite the right kind of emotion as the original headline. But it is far more representative of what happened.

                   

  • But I feel entitled to recieve payment for my valuable intellectual property. Click here to read my comment, currently on special offer! Only £1 per view!
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:30AM (#33973246) Homepage

    I've seen many bloggers, especially big bloggers with lots of advertising, reproduce the lion's share of a story and add so little commentary that even the most pro-fair use judge would have to conclude that it is an illegal infringement.

    The main problem the media will face is that there is already a large swath of the population that hates it. Unfortunately for the MSM, these aren't people who are poor high school students.

  • This will not save the news business. Journalists do not create news; they just report it. They have a right to charge for use of their stories, but the actual events described belong to no one. That is, I could read the story and then report the same events in my own words.
  • Newpapers have put up paywalls in the past, and it hasn't worked for them. Television news is free, not counting cable or satellite TV monthly fees, which are moot if you put up an antenna and receive a local station for free; are local TV stations going to start charging a fee to the community they serve, or shut down their news departments? The Boy Scouts of America were once sent a demand from ASCAP to pay a licensing fee for singing campfire songs; is the AP going to start sending licensing fee bills to

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