The beacon is meant to be a policing device aimed at deterring Web sites from posting AP content without paying licensing fees. The AP and its member newspapers contend unlicensed use of their material is costing them tens of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue. ...Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board and CEO of MediaNews Group, said this is a way to ensure journalism will "survive and thrive."
The AP board of directors argues something has to be done to protect its content because the cooperative's revenue is falling for the first time in years. Revenue is expected to be around $700 million this year, down from $748 million in 2008, in part because of reductions in the fees it charges newspapers and broadcasters, whose advertising revenue has been shriveling as more marketers shift to less expensive options online.
The New York Times has an explainer on what the contract tracker will do here.