Gold'en Rant : The Associated Press stirs up a hornet's nest

The Associated Press (AP) was one of the first newswires I used when I was a rookie IT journalist back in the mid-1980s and I still have a lot of respect for the long-running newswire company.

That respect was eroded this week when I learned that the AP is sueing Moreover.com, a news aggregation Web site and its parent company VeriSign for alleged copyright infringement.

According to the AP, Moreover.com is snipping short sentences and deep linking into the AP Web site.

Sounds familiar? It should do as there were intense arguments more than a decade ago when the Web started to get popular and NewsLinx - the first aggregation site - opened for business in the mid-1990s.

After a lot of discussion, most Web publishers came to their senses and realised that linking between sites was actually to the benefit of everyone, since it drives traffic between sites and is a `fair use' of the Internet.

For its part, AP says that you can't operate a commercial news aggregation site like Moreover.com unless you have an agreement with the AP to carry its stories.

If the AP succeeds in its lawsuit against Moreover.com, the results for Google, Ask Jeeves and other indexing sites could be catastrophic. Would you like to use the Net if there were no indexes like Google?

I rest my case. As well as being very angry with the AP for re-opening this can of digital worms, I sincerely hope they lose, for all our sakes...