They’re claiming that links to Associated Press stories violate fair use:
Tom Curley, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, said the company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. In an interview, he specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, news aggregators and blogs.
Asked if that stance went further than The A.P. had gone before, he said, “That’s right.” The company envisions a campaign that goes far beyond The A.P., a nonprofit corporation. It wants the 1,400 American newspapers that own the company to join the effort and use its software.
“If someone can build multibillion-dollar businesses out of keywords, we can build multihundred-million businesses out of headlines, and we’re going to do that,” Mr. Curley said. The goal, he said, was not to have less use of the news articles, but to be paid for any use.
As Ed Morrissey notes, “the AP doesn’t get to determine what “fair use” means.” That’s for Congress and the courts. Ultimately, I think this means little for Joe Blogger or Joe Gigantic Search EngineCo. Why? Because to have any teeth the AP will have to sue, and if they sue, they run the distinct risk of the courts expanding, not limiting, the definition of fair use. I am willing to bet you several thousand dollars that the AP doesn’t have anything approaching an accurate estimation of what kind of revenues they’d realize if people actually bought blockquoting licenses from them. Put a risk of losing existing fair use protection against an uncertain reward, and you’ve got what amounts to a giant flashing sign that says “don’t overplay your hand here, buster.”
(link via Sullivan, who does not yet charge for content)