Associated Press Digs Its Own Grave Deeper; Wants To Create Its Own Fair Use Rules

from the that's-not-how-it-works dept

On Friday, the story about the Associated Press threatening a blogger for using short snippets of AP stories with links back to the original as somehow being copyright infringement got a ton of attention. It was a clear case of the AP overstepping its bounds -- which goes against everything the organization claimed it would do. As more and more people complained, the AP figured it needed to do something to respond to the complaints -- though, it's choice of somethings proved rather ill-conceived.

First, it went around to the various blogs that had responded to the AP's actions and posted a cut-and-paste comment on all of them. It's rather amusing that their own response to people cutting and pasting their articles is to cut and paste the identical comment everywhere. Of course, in doing so, that comment didn't actually engage with any of the blogs, and in our case, at least, referenced other blog posts that we had not referenced or even read. In other words, the AP reacted as if these various blogs were all working together as a single organization. We're not. Even worse, this comment included what amounted to a sales pitch, suggesting that bloggers should "license" AP content.

Second, the AP announced that it would "rethink" its policies about blogging and try to set guidelines for what is and what is not fair use quoting of its articles. Unfortunately for the Associated Press, that is not how copyright law works. The holder of the copyright does not get to decide what is fair use. That, after all, is the whole point of fair use -- that it doesn't involve the copyright holder in the first place.

Third, the AP chose not to stop demanding that the Drudge Retort take down the various blog posts it had sent DMCA notices over. In other words, despite this "rethinking" it's still pursuing the same brain-dead, internet-unfriendly policy. Clearly, no one over at the Associated Press realizes how badly they screwed this one up.

So, again, we'll reiterate what we said on Friday: on any AP story we find that is worthy of a post, we'll now actively search for alternative sources to receive the link. We won't totally rule out linking to the AP, but since it seems so against getting traffic from other sites, it will now be a link of last resort. It makes you wonder if the news organizations who license AP content (the ones who are the actual beneficiaries of these links) are going to start telling the AP to knock it off.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Douglas Gresham, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:05am

    Another case of misunderstanding copyright

    Another case of Big Content thinking copyright isn't for incentivising content creation, but for allowing them to completely control everything content consumers do. You'd think maybe they'd be capable of learning from others' mistakes. Ah well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re: Another case of misunderstanding copyright

    Learning from other's mistakes would be copyright infringement. Aren't you paying attention?

    /me gets ready to sue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Sounds like another case of lawyers making business decisions, and not very good lawyers at that; quoting more than a certain percentage of any copyrighted publication (15% in Great Britain), even with attribution, is a technical breach of fair use guidelines. One could also argue that paragraph-by-paragraph critiques of an entire article harms the article's publishers financially... but only at the cost of being seen to be using the letter of the law to silence those who call you on factual inaccuracies and poor research, even if that isn't the actual intent. (I'm going to be supremely magnanimous and allow the AP the benefit of the doubt on that.)

     

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  4.  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    To the Core

    Has anyone else noticed that, in the linked NY Times article, there is absolutely no question that the AP gets to decide it's own "Fair Use" policy?

    The article is written with the assumption that fair use is, in fact, up to the whim of the traditional news media, and not a bargain in which the American people are equal partners.

    Just serves to show how deep the delusion goes...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Charles, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Drudge Retort?

    I suppose you mean Drudge Report, unless there is a parody site out there that I'm unaware of.

     

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  6.  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    Never Mind

    Even if The A.P. sets standards, bloggers could choose to use more content than its standards permit, and then The A.P. would have to decide whether to take legal action against them.

    Oops. Guess I should have read the whole thing before commenting

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Marie, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Goodbye, AP

    Techdirt, my response is the same as yours: I won't be linking to AP anymore unless there is a particularly compelling reason. Right now I can't think of anything that would make me feel like linking to them. Linking to AP would be rewarding bad behavior, and I see no reason to do that.

    AP can do without the traffic we've been sending them. Meanwhile, we can support news sources run by people who do have brains.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jun 16th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    Re: #5

    "I suppose you mean Drudge Report, unless there is a parody site out there that I'm unaware of."

    There is a parady site out there that you are unaware of.
    It was discussed in a post prior to this one. The takedown notices were sent to the drudge retort, not the druge report. =)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Thomas Mc, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    AFP is better, anyway

    AFP now has better content than AP, so screw em!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Beefcake, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Quick, someone write an app

    We have adblocker; someone should write an AP-blocker plugin which renders AP articles invisible. AP could distribute it from their site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Bravo for your stance on not linking to the AP unless you absolutely have to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Woadan, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Just so everyone is aware, Mike Arrington has publicly noted on TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/) that they will no longer link to any AP content.

    Woadan

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    SisterofDot, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    AP

    The AP in my opinion are a bunch of self-hating facist pigs.

    They hate America even more... oops! That wasn't politically correct to say that. My Bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    Unfortunately, the link boycott approach will likely have little effect on the AP itself. Its licensee's/ customers are the ones who get the benefit from link traffic, not the AP. So really, when the AP goes after blogs and links, its going against its best customers best interest. Usually not a good business practice....

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    "will likely have little effect on the AP itself. Its licensee's/ customers are the ones who get the benefit from link traffic"

    Yes, and it's the customers who will complain to AP or stop using thier content... It's a long tail, but it should have some effect, at least.

    Even if it has no effect, it's the principle of the matter.

    Go, Techdirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 4:10am

    Wait a second...

    You're response to AP's stupidity is to boycott linking to their website???

    *SLAP*

    Get a clue. If AP's being stupid, you need to step up and link to AP's website to show them what they're doing is wrong and use fair use as your foundation.

    By not linking, you're effectively giving them the power to dictate their rules and they'll think they've "won" in doing so.

    Here, let me help:
    http://www.ap.org/

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    SEO 101

    Surely you would think that someone at AP would be in charge or have at least looked into SEO for their website.

    If so how can they not know that INBOUND links increase the visibility of their own site overall!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Coaster, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 7:08pm

    What about when AP quotes someone in their article? Do they have to pay John Doe by the word for everything they quote him as saying?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Michelle McCormack, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    AP

    Typical arrogance of old media, who are used to having full control of their niche, to think they can write guidelines around rules that the government put in place to control them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Michelle McCormack, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    AP

    Typical arrogance of old media, who are used to having full control of their niche, to think they can write guidelines around rules that the government put to protect creator and user.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    UseToWork@AP, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 12:22am

    Re

    Ap.org sucks, their whole IT staff is lame, I worked their for 6 months and couldn't believe how bad things at there. They don't understand the concept of full life cycle, most of their project don't have any order. Their technology selection is less than standard and their staff doesn't understand what is involve in order to get their project done right. AP.org is going downhill fast, anyone associated with their IT should jump ship.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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