Costly legal disputes among online publishers and search engines about the use of content may soon be just a memory thanks to the new access protocol ACAP, a system endorsed by the European Commission which allows content permissions to be automatically communicated to middle-users, such as search engines.
ACAP, the acronym for ‘Automated Content Access Protocol’, is an automated technical solution allowing content permissions to be communicated in a machine-readable manner.
The developers underline that this is not a blocking technology but a communication tool. Indeed, search engines’ ‘crawlers’ will automatically receive an indication on what they can do with the content, such as whether they can publish it entirely on other pages or use only extracts, or whether there is an expiry date for showing the content.
The European Commission endorses this new technology and “strongly” exhorts Google and the other search engines to use the new protocol, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said.
ACAP is free and can already be used by whoever is interested. “The negotiations among publishers and search engine companies are still ongoing”, explained an expert participating in the biannual Publishers’ Forum, which took place yesterday (6 December) in Brussels.
Commissioner Reding yesterday for the first time publicly supported ACAP, in a speech in front of stakeholders from the sector participating in the Brussels Forum. She considered the use of the new protocol to be a win-win situation “as publishers can link content with authorisations for access and use in a form that can easily be recognised and interpreted by a search engine crawler”.
In the next few weeks, the Commission will publish its strategy paper for content online with the purpose of “starting a process aimed at facilitating business negotiations and improving legal certainty”, Commissioner Reding said, underlining that “press web sites rank among the most popular on the net, just after the peer-to-peer ones”.