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The AP Plans 'News Registry' To Protect Content

The world's oldest and largest news gathering organization aims to fight online theft of its content with digital tracking beacons.

Moving to limit the unauthorized republication of its news stories by aggregators, The Associated Press on Wednesday said that it plans to create a news registry to track all AP content online.

In a statement, Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group, said that the AP is building a way for good journalism to survive.

Journalism's long-term prospects have been in doubt recently following the closure of several national newspapers and the newpaper industry's deepening financial troubles.

In May, media company representatives met in Washington, D.C., to discuss the future of journalism before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

At the hearing, David Simon, a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun, noted author, and the creator of HBO's The Wire, said, "High-end journalism is dying and it won't be reborn anywhere else without a new model. The parasite is slowly killing the host."

The AP hopes its news registry will render the parasite less harmful.

The registry, which the AP intends to launch later this year, will initially track all AP text content on the Internet. The AP plans to extend coverage to AP member content in 2010. After that, the system will be expanded to cover photos and videos.

The AP said that the registry will utilize a microformat "wrapper" to encapsulate AP and member content. The system "includes a digital permissions framework that lets publishers specify how their content is to be used online and ... also supplies the critical information needed to track and monitor its usage."

The system will provide publishers with content usage metrics, payment services, and enforcement assistance, and is designed to work with various payment models, including "pay walls."

"It's not DRM," said Jane Seagrave, SVP for global product development at the AP. "It's CMI, copyright management information. It carries metadata about the story, it carries rights information and it carries a tracking beacon, a way of reporting back what's been found."

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