Associated Press Will Form News Licensing Entity for Mobile-Based Revenue

The Associated Press is leading the formation of a news-licensing entity that it hopes will help publications collect royalties from content distributed through mobile phones, tablet computers and other wireless-computing devices.

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The AP will create a so-called digital-rights clearinghouse that would negotiate licensing fees on behalf of the AP and other news organizations, the wire service reported, citing a speech AP CEO Tom Curley made Monday to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association in Austin, Texas. The entity would be modeled after the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which collects royalties and distributes them to more than 390,000 songwriters and music creators.

The AP seeks to better capitalize on the surging amount of news being consumed by people on iPhones, Android handsets and other smartphones. Overall, usage of mobile-communication devices will more than triple between 2009 and 2014, to almost 574 million units, research firm Gartner said in a report last month. The AP estimated that more than 250 million wireless devices will run on either Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android mobile-operating system or the Apple Inc. (APPL) platform behind the iPhone and iPad tablet computer.

The clearinghouse, which will be set up as an independent entity to avoid antitrust issues, may be in operation by the end of the year, AP reported.