The Associated Press wants to be the Internet's content sheriff—as soon as it figures out how it works. It demanded a radio station in Tennessee take down videos embedded from the AP's own YouTube channel.

A vice president in the AP's Chicago office sent WTNQ, a member of the AP, a cease-and-desist letter asking them to stop posting the AP's YouTube videos on its website. Frank Strovel, an employee at the AP-affiliated station, raised a fuss on Twitter, the world's best medium for complaints. That won him an interview with blogger Christian Grantham. Strovel explained that he called the AP executive who had sent the letter, a vice president of affiliate relations, and discovered he was unaware that the AP even had a YouTube channel.

Posting a video to YouTube requires the copyright holder to grant a license that allows anyone to embed the video on their website, unless one chooses to disable the embedding function. The AP has not done so — note the embed codes available on an AP report about Simpsons stamps, left.

Is this an example of what we're going to see from the AP as it attempts to pursue those who have "misappropriated" its content online, as Chairman Dean Singleton recently charged? If so, then the Internet is probably safe for a while, as the AP pursues its enemies within.

Update: AP flack Paul Colford sent this email:

There was a misunderstanding of YouTube usage when the Tennessee radio station was contacted by the Associated Press regarding the AP's more extensive online video services. No cease and desist letter was drafted or sent by AP to the station at any time. The AP was trying to offer the station a superior service for their needs.

It appears that the AP did not send a formal cease-and-desist letter. But it certainly demanded that WTNQ take down the AP's YouTube videos. And it hardly offered "superior service." On his blog, Strovel published an excerpt from the email he received from the AP executive:

I noticed you are posting our video content with out a license and have to ask you to remove the AP video content from the site ASAP. If you would like to know more about our web services please contact me.