Hoo boy. I’m quite curious to see how AP tries to put Pandora back in the box.
Ignoring for a moment whether AP has a strong legal argument (my media law is a bit rusty), the assumption that readers are aware of AP, how it’s comprised, or what it’s for, seems a bit dicey to me. My apprehensiveness stems from only one encounter, however — where a woman told me about how she didn’t have access to the “wired” stories journalists had back in 1992. But if it’s true that this ignorance is a bit more widespread (who has evidence suggesting otherwise?), then will anyone particularly care if AP shuts off access to its content? Someone else out there will have it. Could be from the BBC, or Al Jazeera, or a trending Twitter topic. Will people care they’re not getting more actual reportage? Perhaps. But more importantly, will they care enough to want to pay to read it? For the foreseeable future, I’m skeptical.
Perez-Peña also usefully points out that “news organizations have called the ire at the search engines misguided, saying that much of their own Web traffic arrives through links on search pages.” If what I said above is true — that news consumers don’t know the difference between the AP and HDTV and don’t much care — then search engines are necessary for news organizations to stay afloat, at least until Web advertising hits its stride.