Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When Words Cost

Associated Press is already backing away from an attempt to become the text version of the RIAA -- charging bloggers by the word for excerpts posted by non-AP members. Recall earlier we had AP making a deal for a new direct to iPhone service -- to which I immediately said, "and who pays for it?"

So in a pretty blatant attempt to crush fair use in the pursuit of the desperate need to pay for the services of AP, we get a rate card that calls for bloggers to pay a floating scale depending on how many words they use. Obviously, you get a heck of a discount when you buy over 251 words, a mere $100. A short quote is pretty pricey -- 5 to 25 words go for $12.50.

As a result, AP as served some cease and desist letters, and pulled them back according to the New York Times.

At the risk of blowback, here is the money quote from the NYT story, quoting Jim Kennedy, the VP and "strategy director" of AP.

“We don’t want to cast a pall over the blogosphere by being heavy-handed, so we have to figure out a better and more positive way to do this,” Mr. Kennedy said.

I can tell you where this is headed. Universities will begin to lock down the use of press releases by the B&B community. Pro sports have already broken the seal on these kinds of content restrictions on the argument that they "own the performance." That, after all, is the SOP in the entertainment community.

The end result -- everyone loses. Content gets locked up in digital gated communities. The free flow of ideas and information is lost. In the gap, cascades of fark and propaganda fill the vacuum.

It may not be a total loss. The Web 2.0 community might just take a page from the history books and employ an island-hopping campaign against the established media. Simply go around them and leave them to their own little domains, left to starve as their resources are cut off.

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