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.

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Companies: associated press

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Comments on “Associated Press Digs Its Own Grave Deeper; Wants To Create Its Own Fair Use Rules”

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21 Comments
Jake says:

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.)

lavi d (profile) says:

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…

Marie says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.

Twinrova says:

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/

UseToWork@AP says:

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.

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