Recently, there has a been an interesting (yet unsurprising) conflict between the Associated Press and the blogosphere regarding copyright, fair use, and editorial use of AP content. I summarize my view as simply: AP = Fail.
If you don’t know, the Associated Press (AP) is a membership of various journalistic sources, mostly newspapers and media sources. The AP is runs their own internal feed (aka, “wire”), where stories carry additional metadata attached to them, along with a plethora of jargon and style that goes with it. Competing against the AP are obviously independent journalism groups, Thomson Reuters (for business news) and now — bloggers.
It all started when the Associated Press filed seven DMCA Takedown requests to a popular blog, Drudge Retort, (not Drudge Report) under “Copyright Infringement,” for six stories linked to from the Retort and one piece of user-generated content.
The crime? Quoting a sentence or two from the AP.
The main conflict is over the legal application of Fair Use when it comes to quoting a story and providing attribution in the form of a hyperlink. Mind you, bloggers are very easy to agitate when you attempt to invade on their personal rights, their blogs are not something they are willing to give up their rights with.
The AP argues their stories are copyrighted and all words and content belong solely to them and their affiliated media publications. Further, they demand $12.50 for quoting five words of any of their stories — even if it’s major news. They find bloggers a risk to their traditional, old business model; so why not go after them with a DMCA lawsuit?
All the stories included in the DMCA request have a link back to the AP or affiliated press Web sites, including a small excerpt or quote from the story. At no time has the Retort claimed any news that the AP produced as their own.
It’s very clear, that defending traditional old business models has worked successfully to combat software piracy and music file sharing, right? It’s amazing that for such a large media organization, they don’t get it. Look how successful news organizations are when they leverage Digg, Propeller and other social news networks, they received unthinkable amounts of traffic on stories which hit the front pages of those sites.
Reasons why the AP Fails:
- It’s ridiculous that the AP actually is arguing over fair-use, when the rip the stories of the backs of their decent journalists with no link back to the actual source. Of course, it’s up to the editor of a newspaper if they wish to renew their AP membership or not.
- AP must be really smoking some really good stuff if they think they can enforce a policy of “use five words, pay up sucka” on the open, free and diverse Internet.
- AP fails to leverage bloggers and may have permanently destroyed any bridge to let bloggers walk on over to their side. That is, any decent bloggers will remember when the AP threatened all blogging on the Web and would preferably not mention or link to news provided by the AP. There are some influential bloggers who have decided to actively boycott the AP until they retract their position on Fair Use.
- AP breaks their directive to quote sources, without permission, by quoting Michael Arrington from TechCrunch. As such, Arrington shows the ludicrousness of AP by asking them to pay him $12.50 for his 22-word quote they used in their story about the matter.
- AP fails at damage control as well as credibility when it comes to the Internet. In their response, they lay faith in a small group labeled “Media Bloggers Association,” who seem to validate AP’s outlandish views that bloggers should pay to quote a sentence from the AP. Mind you, the MBA is a small group led by an outspoken republican blogger. (The lack of proper research in that story only reflects the lack of credibility has today discussing technology related items.)
- They fail to actively engage some industry leaders for discussion; instead, they continue to exist in their own walled-garden with their publications. As we all know, the walled-garden worked so well for that ‘other’ media giant.
This leaves a lot of opportunity for the AP to improve their relations with bloggers, not burn them. I hope the AP drops the case, provides “best practices” when linking to AP content and can leverage bloggers as some means of providing value in an AP story. Then again, reading the AP is like reading the Wall Street Journal, where there seems to be a policy to bore readers to death.
Between the questionable Fair Use claims, the outrageous suggestion and the arrogant attitude from the largest news organization; I’m saying AP = Fail. They just don’t get it.
Should bloggers be allowed to quote a couple sentences when pointing to news articles? Post in the comments!