Speaking at the World Media Summit in Beijing News Corporation's owner Rupert Murdoch and Tom Curley, Chief Executive of Associated Press, said that Internet search engines and other websites should start paying for news they currently receive for free.
The 300 representatives at the summit heard Mr Murdoch, who has announced in recent months his intention to start charging readers for access to the news via his websites, refer to those search engines and websites who at present receive the news for free from the likes of Associated Press as "aggregators and plagiarists".
Mr Murdoch's plan to charge visitors to his own websites was largely prompted by the $3.4 billion net loss News Corporation made in the year to June. And the support Mr Murdoch received from Mr Curley may stem from the fact that Associated Press is expecting revenue in 2009 of $700 million, down considerably from revenue of $748 million in 2008.
That reduction in revenue, reported by the Associated Press itself, has resulted from the reduced fees AP has been charging newspapers and broadcasters who in turn have seen a fall in the revenue they receive from advertising.
Addressing the representatives in Beijing, who had traveled from over 80 different countries and were in the Chinese capital on behalf of over 170 media outlets, Mr Curley said of the situation facing his organization and others like it:We content creators have been too slow to react to the free exploitation of news by third parties without input or permission.
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. We content creators must quickly and decisively act to take back control of our content.
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
Another idea currently being considered by AP is to sell stories to certain of its online customers for a period of perhaps 30 minutes before the story's wider distribution, thereby creating some form of exclusivity. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN are amongst those who receive photographs and stories on license from AP, and they do so at the same time as all other licensees.
The AP news agency - founded in 1846 in New York City and run as a cooperative with a board of directors which includes the Presidents of ABC News, the Washington Post and the Tribune Company - also intends to track more closely those who may be using the stories and photographs it has supplied without the appropriate license.
Unlicensed users of online content and those obtaining content legitimately both appear to be the people Mr Murdoch called "kleptomaniacs" almost immediately after making his reference to "aggregators and plagiarists".
As the BBC reports Mr Murdoch, Australian by birth but now a U.S. citizen, owns a number of newspapers, including the New York Post and Wall Street Journal in the U.S. and the Sun and the London Times in the U.K. The Wall Street Journal caters to the business and financial communities and already charges for readers to access news online. It may soon start charging those who access its stories on the likes of BlackBerrys and iPhones up to $2 per week for doing so.