If your entire business can be undermined by someone copying your headline and a snippet of your first sentence from your own RSS feed, then you have failed in business. The AP needs to hire someone who understands basic business tenets, not to mention basic technology, law and economics. The amazing thing is that I’ve heard from a couple AP reporters who are sickened by this as well, and feel that Curley is destroying the organization. They know this is a huge mistake.
Things never seem to change (Clay Shirky):
Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it.
One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.”
It’s so fascinating to see all of this massive change happening in almost every industry– finance, news, healthcare. They are all dealing with the same problem. How do we transition from the 20th Century into the 21st? They’ve done quite a good job for the past 9 and a half years. The only ones that will survive are the ones that figure out that the 21st Century is all about shrinking the 20th Century businesses in half. It’s either they spin off separate businesses within the dinosaurs to compete with their ancient business models or they don’t and a 21st Century company without all the baggage (like Google and the Huffington Post) will come along and tear your business apart. Good luck AP. The bomb is ticking for you.