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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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IP owners plot to get their cut of search engine revenue

Noam Cohen writes in the NYTimes today about the love-hate relationship between publications and the search engines link here. Some of the publications want to be paid for the use of their texts. At the same time, they exploit the search engines, trying the jigger the search results so that they come up high on the list of sites identified and the sites get more traffic and respect and ultimately, more money. Having given up on fee-based web content, they clearly would like a cut of the search engine advertising revenue.

Cohen moves on to the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP) which is supposed to replace the currently used robots.txt protocol (RTP). To an outsider, that seems quite flexible and restrictive as matters stand since it is already voluntarily accepted by the search engines. The search engines using RTP agree to be excluded from all or part of a web site. Reading between the lines, the ACAP advocates will want to exclude access for any search engine not paying up.

It is not clear how much clout the ACAP has. Its members, principally European, notably include AFP and AP and several book publishers but none of the large American or European papers as best as can be told from the ACAP website link here. They would like you to believe that their only interest is to benefit the consumer and they are coy about what their protocol would actually do, other than to apply "metadata to data."

Where "fair use" plays in all this is not clear, but be suspicious. Expect an attack in Congress to try to impose the ACAP on search engines, an ACAP with real teeth.


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