Associated Press Steps in Blogger Doo-Doo
Date: Monday, June 23 @ 06:21:02 PDT
$12.50 for 5 word quote? How about a nice refreshing cup of boycott?
Quite a kerfuffle over in Blogland, and one with rather disconcerting ramifications for American copyright law, and the concept of fair use, which all of us who publish on the Internet care about.
Last week, the Associated Press served a DMCA cease-and-desist order to Rogers Cadenhead, one of the proprietors of The Drudge Retort. It seems that the AP didn't like the length of the quotes reported, and considered their copyrights to be infringed.
Quoting from Cadenhead's site (sorry, we can't quote AP articles now), "The 8,500 users of the site contribute blog entries of their own authorship and links to interesting news articles on the web, which appear immediately on the site. None of the six entries challenged by AP, which include two that I posted myself, contains the full text of an AP story or anything close to it. They reproduce short excerpts of the articles -- ranging in length from 33 to 79 words -- and five of the six have a user-created headline.". Clearly, the AP did not agree with the fair use claims put forth by Cadenhead and used an unusually heavy handed tactic, which previously has been the sort of tool used by the RIAA.
Now, on Saturday, the AP seemed to soften its position, perhaps realizing that pissing off a million bloggers was probably going to be Bad Public Relations. Of course, their position was to "publish guidelines" which require bloggers (we qualify here under the definition) must pay a $12.50 fee to the AP for any quote of 5 words or more. What clearly the Ass Press is saying to bloggers is "pay up or get your content from somewhere else".
Luckily, Cadenhead has a lot of friends in Blogland, and quite a ruckus is ensuing. Entertaining blog comments aside, there is a seriousness to the response (and rather some anger at the New York Times) that merits following. What the Ass Press is in effect saying is that fair use is no longer a defense for AP news articles (not a quote!). The fact that they are sending DMCA takedown notices for fact reporting (quotes are not copyrightable if it's a quote by a third party) and a genuinely silly 5 word baseline, pretty clearly sends the message to Free and Open Journalism that Big Media isn't pleased, no, not pleased at all, about losing money to the FOJ movement. Perhaps they think the world will pony up more money for the privilege of sending readers to AP articles. Fat Chance. It's perhaps time that the old guard gets to grips with new technologies, since they are hypocritically appropriating content from bloggers.
One can expect more news along this front, however we won't be quoting from the Ass. Press.