AP, News Corp Bosses Tell Search Engines To Pay Up

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The leaders of two of the world's major news organizations said Friday that it is time for search engines and others who use news content for free to pay up.

The comments from Tom Curley of The Associated Press and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch come as the media industry struggles in the Internet age. Many news companies contend that sites such as Google have reaped a fortune from their articles, photos and video without fairly compensating the news organizations producing the material.

"We content creators have been too slow to react to the free exploitation of news by third parties without input or permission," Curley, the AP's chief executive, told a meeting of 300 media leaders in Beijing.

"Crowd-sourcing Web services such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook have become preferred customer destinations for breaking news, displacing Web sites of traditional news publishers," Curley said. "We content creators must quickly and decisively act to take back control of our content."

He said content aggregators, such as search engines and bloggers, were also directing audiences and revenue away from content creators.

"We will no longer tolerate the disconnect between people who devote themselves _ at great human and economic cost _ to gathering news of public interest and those who profit from it without supporting it," Curley said.

Murdoch also told the opening session of the World Media Summit in Beijing's Great Hall of the People that content providers would be demanding to be paid.

"The aggregators and plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid content, it will be the content creators _ the people in this hall _ who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs who triumph," the News Corp. chief executive said.

Curley said in a speech earlier this week in Hong Kong that the AP was considering selling news stories to some online customers exclusively for a certain period, perhaps half an hour.

The AP licenses its stories and photographs to many of the Internet's main hubs, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN, and its work is also used by hundreds of Web sites owned by newspapers and broadcasters. Currently, they all get the material at the same time.

Curley did not clarify how a product that provided some news earlier would work or specify the target customers for the potential new service.

The AP already plans to roll out a system, called a news registry, that will track its content online and detect unlicensed uses in ways that could help boost revenue for the not-for-profit news cooperative, which was founded in 1846, and its member newspapers. The system will be tested in six weeks by nine newspapers along with a sports statistics provider run jointly by AP and News Corp.

The AP and its member newspapers contend that unauthorized use of their material is costing them tens of millions of dollars in potential advertising revenue at a time when they can least afford it.

The AP's revenue is expected to be around $700 million this year, down from $748 million in 2008, in part because of reductions in the fees it charges newspapers and broadcasters, whose advertising revenue has been dwindling as more marketers shift to less expensive or better-targeted options online.

Murdoch has been a strong advocate of charging for online content. News Corp. already owns the newspaper industry's most successful Internet subscription model in The Wall Street Journal, with more than 1 million customers who pay for online access.

Murdoch had said in the past he hopes to make online fees pay off for his other publications, which include the New York Post and The Times of London. He hasn't provided specifics about his plans.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal said it plans to start charging as much as $2 per week to readits stories on BlackBerrys, iPhones and other mobile devices, expanding the newspaper's effort to become less dependent on its print edition.

The mobile fees will be imposed in the next month or two, Murdoch said at the time.

Murdoch and Curley were speaking to 300 representatives from more than 170 media outlets from 80 countries at a meeting that will look at the challenges and opportunities the media face from the Internet, changes in technology and the world economic crisis.

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