Friday, November 30, 2007

News associations pressure search engines to adopt "Automated Content Access Protocol" (ACAP)

News associations and publishers are advocating that search engine companies adopt an extension to the “robots.txt” concept that is supposed to block robots when that is desired by the publisher. The enhancement is called Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP).

In recent years, book publishers have been concerned about the way insides of books are readily displayed by search engines, and news groups (like the Associated Press and Reuters, and the European Publishers Council) have objected to the display of pictures and significant blocks of content almost immediately by search engine companies. Nevertheless, the AP has sometimes given permission for search engine companies to host specific stories quickly.

The AP has expressed concern that professional journalists risk their lives (or sometimes imprisonment in foreign countries) to provide stories, and reproduction of them without permission can make their reporting economically unviable.

The Washington Post story ("Publishers Seeking Web Controls: News Organizations Propose Tighter Search Engine Rules") on this item is by Anick Jesdanun (from the AP), appears on page A2 Business of the Nov. 30, 2007 The Washington Post, link here.

As covered several times on this blog, deep linking by bloggers and other sites and publishers appears to be legal as long as the quoting site does not “frame” the link as if it were its own. The legal background for that case has been covered several times. (For example, Feb 7, 2006, here): or on March 9, 2007 here. EFF’s main link appears to be here.

Linking is essentially like a bibliographic reference or footnote in a high school or college term paper. Some news sites have clauses about “republishing or redistributing” stories but facts by themselves are not copyright protected (in a few cases though they could be trade secrets or security classified). The writer is on safest grounds when he or she adds perspective to the item, comparing it to other items previously published on the topic (as is accepted research). A writer’s own personal experience with an issue also adds perspective, although that can sometimes raise other issues (for employers, family, or others connected to the person who might believe they could affected by the information or the connection); this was an issue in the Nov 29 blog posting (below).

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