ORLANDO, Fla. — A recent court ruling that an Internet news clipping service infringed on the use of Associated Press content is a victory not only for the media but for the public, the news cooperative's CEO said Monday at the AP's annual meeting.
A federal judge in New York ruled last month that Meltwater News had infringed on AP's copyright by using unlicensed AP content verbatim to produce a service for paying customers. The judge granted AP's motion for summary judgment. Meltwater has vowed to file an appeal.
"The judge's decision in Meltwater vindicated our position that what all of us here do has value, and deserves protection from free-riders and those who take our hard-earned content without compensating us for it," Gary Pruitt said at the AP meeting in Orlando.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said that news reporting is expensive and that copyright law is what allows journalists to support their work.
"That is what we do," Pruitt said. "And what we must continue to do for a public faced with so much misinformation in this age of information overload."
Mary Junck, chairman of AP's board of directors and CEO of Lee Enterprises Inc., reported that AP strengthened its financial health in 2012, growing operating cash flow for the first time in five years.
"Although revenue declined in 2012, the AP team reduced expenses much more," Junck said. "We have tackled costs the same way you have â(EURO)" with a sharp pencil and an ongoing process of transforming the way we do business, including dramatically reduced rates for members."
"At the same time, AP is working harder to provide you with a stronger, more relevant news report, including in-depth coverage of significant issues, such as our extensive examination of the Affordable Care Act," she said.
The annual meeting included a live appearance by Seoul Bureau Chief Jean Lee via satellite from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and an in-person presentation from West Africa Bureau Chief Rukmini Callimachi and West Africa chief photographer Rebecca Blackwell.
The luncheon speaker was Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff under President Clinton who co-founded The Campaign to Fix the Debt with former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson. Bowles urged the publishers and editors in the audience to recognize the risks of the U.S. maintaining its budget deficit.
Bowles said he would announce with Simpson on Friday a new plan to reduce the deficit by an additional $2.5 trillion over the next decade, in addition to the $2.7 trillion in savings already enacted by Congress and the White House. The new plan makes deeper cuts to Medicare and the Pentagon than what President Obama is proposing. Bowles said Obama's plan doesn't go far enough to curb the growth of the government's debt.
"We believe it will also solve our nation's long-term fiscal problem and do so without disrupting our very fragile economic recovery," Bowles said. "This plan isn't perfect. It's really tough. The problem is real. The solutions are painful. There is no easy way out."
The AP is owned by 1,400 U.S. newspapers and is largely a wholesaler of news. It sells the content it gathers and produces to newspapers, commercial websites and radio and TV stations.