I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been a bit busy, with one thing or another. And tonight I’m supposed to be writing a book. But I just wanted to weigh in quickly on something that will interest possible three or four people who read this blog, but is bugging the hell out of me.

Associate Press is suing Moreover.com for publishing AP news reports without permission.

Now, there’s been a lot of comment on other blogs about the subject – quite a lot of it quite wrong (@Mashable: Moreover is owned by Verisign, not Viacom). My problem is not with the specifics of the case.

No.

My problem is with the ridiculous – and growing – trend of companies using intellectual property lawsuits as an opening gambit in rights negotiations. We’ve seen the tactic used against Napster, we’ve seen it used against YouTube, we’ve seen it used against Google News and now we’re seeing it used against Moreover. Media rights owner panics about their inability to compete in the online world and decides a good way to make money is to get huge licence fees from aggregators. Media rights owner opens negotiations by suing for ridiculous damages. Aggregator is forced to negotiate on the back foot.…

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