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August 30 2010

18:16

The AP and Google reach a licensing renewal agreement — here’s what it might mean for their relationship

This afternoon, Google and The Associated Press announced that they’ve struck a new licensing deal that will allow Google to continue posting content from the news cooperative. The renewal is an extension of the agreement between Google and the AP that goes back to 2006 — the one that permits Google to host AP content on Google properties (Google News, most prominently). The agreement, depending on whose statement  you read, will both “create a better user experience and new revenue opportunities” and allow the companies to “work together in a number of new areas, such as ways to improve discovery and distribution of news.”

The deal comes after months of often tense back-and-forth between the two media behemoths. With their 2006 licensing contract — which arose from an AP threat to sue Google for the content it was aggregating through its search algorithm — expiring in January, the question of whether or not a renewal would come about in the first place has been an open one. In as late as October of 2009, CEO Tom Curley denied that the AP was in licensing-contract renegotiations with Google, saying, “We haven’t talked. We haven’t talked with them in any serious way.” Then, for several weeks this winter, after the contract had expired, AP content stopped appearing on Google’s interface — a situation that ended in February with a “sort of temporary detente.”

So what might we read into today’s renewal announcement? I spoke with someone familiar with the terms of the agreement, who provided me with a bit more background on the deal and what it might mean. In the absence of precise information about the terms of the renewal — about which both companies are currently keeping mum — probably the main shift of note here is the change represented not in the terms, but in their tone: a move on both sides away from “vendor,” and toward “partner.” There’s reason to think, in other words, that the licensing agreement is more than simply a contract renewal, and more even than another detente: that it marks a change in the overall relationship between the two trend-setting media organizations. Us-versus-them becoming let’s-work-together.

If so, that’s a significant shift. Google has been on a partnership kick of late, going out of its way to work closely with media organizations in a way that integrates news content with news platform. The biggest examples — Living Stories, Fast Flip, Editor’s Picks, etc. — suggest a Google that is trying to mend fences by way of breaking them down: working actively and intimately with news organizations, rather than positioning itself as a mere platform, detached and impassive. And the AP, for its part (perhaps in response to the 10 percent drop in revenue, and 68 percent drop in profit, it has endured since 2008), has stepped down its most heated rhetoric about appropriated content and the like. So we’re seeing some kind of renewal today; we’ll be interested to learn whether it’s of a marriage of convenience or something more truly companionate.

July 19 2010

06:29

BLESS CONSUMER REPORTS!

2010-07-19_0726

The New York Times David Carr makes the point about how Consumer Reports i in the “credibility business”

“It was a big week for Consumer Reports and a reminder that media that is unsupported by advertising can often have an impact that more traditional publishing, or even the most tech-savvy, enterprises don’t. With 3.9 million subscribers to its magazine and 3.3 million paid subscribers to its Web site, Consumer Reports has a combined paid circulation of 7.2 million, up 33 percent since 2004.”

“If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger. That’s a maxim of modern public relations, one that’s on display every day in Washington, on cable TV and, last Friday, on stage in Cupertino. But, with its long history and reputation for efficacy, Consumer Reports is the opposite of a juicy target.”

As Rob Curley said today in Twitter: Bless Consumer Reports!

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