ACAP: More reactions

Interesting to see that News International has become the first UK publisher to implement ACAP. Absent cooperation from the search engine industry, it’s not quite clear what ACAP v.1.0 actually involves. Here’s Oliver Luft at Journalism.co.uk:

    Developers claim that at first not all web crawlers will be able to read the new system, therefore modifying an existing system is the simplest form of implementation.However, using this approach a further modification to ensure specific permissions are understood by web crawling technologies will be required at a later stage.

. . . At this point, it’s not exactly clear whether News International intends this as little more than a gesture. That seems to be the way in which Dominic Young, director of editorial services at News International, frames it.

Search engine guru Danny Sullivan offers up a critique at Search Engine Land. As always, Sullivan’s stuff is worth reading.

Sullivan asks: “What does ACAP provide that robots.txt and meta robots does not? After going through the technical specs, which are pretty dense reading, I’d summarize it this way:

  • Emphasis on both granting permissions and blocking
  • Support for time-based inclusion or exclusion”

Head over to Martin Belam’s blog Currybet for a critical discussion of ACAP. Belam, who waves the flag for a DRM-free web, is not impressed:

    It seems like a weak electronic online DRM – with the vague promise that in the future more ‘stuff’ will be published, precisely because you can do less with it.

Belam is a techie. He’s only scratching the surface of ACAP, but already seems to be finding hints of trouble with its technical implementation. My guess is that he will be the first of many.

I wonder whether Ian Douglas’s views on ACAP are representative of official policy at The Telegraph Group. I don’t think he’d have written about ACAP in this way if they weren’t.

Douglas is skeptical. He writes:

    The very idea of exclusion is ridiculous to any publisher with an advertising-based model that relies on traffic to pay the bills.

That’s a sensible objection. As it transpires, Telegraph Media Group is not among the members of ACAP. Nor is Guardian Media Group, Trinity Mirror or Daily Mail & General Trust.

The list of members includes Express Newspapers, News International and Independent News & Media.

Historically, Wapping has never liked search engines. The company’s lawyers have lobbied the EU aggressively on the subject. And it’s probably logical to take Anne Spackman’s views as evidence of wider concern.

Aside from that, it’s worth noting that ACAP’s leading proponents within the UK newspaper industry are two of the weaker players. . .

More seriously, there’s a serious lack of involvement from the US newspaper industry.

Google is more internationalist than many other technology companies. But it won’t have failed to notice that The Associated Press is the only representative from North America’s news industry on ACAP’s list of members.

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