Associated Press: Fair Use Limits You To Four Words; Five Words Costs $12.50

from the make-it-stop dept

As we wait with bated breath for the Associated Press to come down from the mountain with its own rules for “fair use for bloggers,” Patrick Nielsen Hayden gives us a sense of what the AP considers fair use (found via Boing Boing). Apparently, for quite some time, the AP has had up a page that lists out prices for quoting AP text. I will quote the list prices, and hope I don’t get a DMCA takedown:

  • 5-25 words: $ 12.50
  • 26-50 words: $ 17.50
  • 51-100 words: $ 25.00
  • 101-250 words: $ 50.00
  • 251 words and up: $ 100.00

Oh, and it gets better. The AP claims that it can revoke the license at any time if it feels you’re saying something negative about the Associated Press: “Publisher reserves the right to terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher?s reputation.”

Now, these are the terms that the AP has had on its site for some time — but they explain why the AP went after the Drudge Retort for quoting less than 100 words. To the AP, that was a violation requiring a $25 license. So, while some believe that those criticizing the AP are overreacting, I’d argue that’s not the case at all. This is not, as suggested, a one-time thing. This is an ongoing pattern of misuse of copyright law by the AP. And it’s been pointed out to the AP in the past that these actions are wrong — and it did nothing to change the AP’s behavior. Instead, it seems to have only emboldened the AP.

Besides, it now appears that the AP’s way of having this “conversation” with bloggers on what is AP-acceptable “fair use” is to meet with some guy who represents some blogging “group” I’ve never heard of. That group does not represent bloggers and it certainly doesn’t speak for all of us in reaching some sort of “agreement.” If the AP really wants to engage with the critics, why doesn’t it come out and talk to those of us criticizing its actions? So far, the only engagement has been to cut and past the same comment on a bunch of blog sites… Other than that, it has only spoken to reporters about this issue.

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Comments on “Associated Press: Fair Use Limits You To Four Words; Five Words Costs $12.50”

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71 Comments
You are not only a coward but an idiot says:

Re: Re:

You have got to be kidding if you believe you need any sort of liscense to have a blogg in the internet?? My 11 year old niece has one, should be a member of the guild???

The internet is not only democratic but also global…

Everyone can participate, you have the option not to read if you prefer..

SpinLock (user link) says:

Re: Executive Change

I used to work at the AP (2000-2005) in NYC. I’ve met Jim Kennedy many times. He doesn’t ‘get’ this tubey thing, his peers don’t get it, and his hair is grayer than mine. Their current president came in around 2004 from USA Today. He and his don’t get it either – just listen to his town-hall speeches over the last few years.

I can’t imaging why they have Jim Kennedy responding to this. He certainly didn’t respond to the internet opportunity I spelled out for him on his white board back in 2003. He has never given me the impression he’s a hip, modern, with-it, inter-tuber!

Rogers Cadenhead (user link) says:

Media Bloggers Association

“That group does not represent bloggers and it certainly doesn’t speak for all of us in reaching some sort of ‘agreement.'”

Robert Cox’s organization is attempting to persuade AP that its approach towards this issue is not the right one. I think that’s a valid contribution to be making here, which is why I’ve been trying to get out of the way and let that discussion take place.

I appreciate the support for the rights of the bloggers on the Drudge Retort, but I think there are limits to the “all stick, no carrot” approach that some bloggers seem to be advocating.

For every blogger in my position who can raise an objection and be heard, there are a lot more who won’t be able to effectively respond to a cease and desist letter or DMCA takedown. It would be beneficial if a large media organization such as AP attempted to codify what’s reasonable excerpting of its content on blogs.

As I said on my own blog, media organizations that encourage our link-and-excerpt culture will benefit, just as MSNBC is currently drawing considerable traffic from the news video it encourages bloggers to embed in their own posts.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Media Bloggers Association

Hi Rogers,

Robert Cox’s organization is attempting to persuade AP that its approach towards this issue is not the right one. I think that’s a valid contribution to be making here, which is why I’ve been trying to get out of the way and let that discussion take place.

I’m sure it is trying to persuade the AP that its approach is incorrect, but I find it odd that this group somehow gets to represent all bloggers. Why isn’t the AP reaching out to others? Who put Robert Cox in charge?


I appreciate the support for the rights of the bloggers on the Drudge Retort, but I think there are limits to the “all stick, no carrot” approach that some bloggers seem to be advocating.

I’m not advocating either a carrot or a stick approach. I’m simply questioning why the AP is doing what it’s doing.

It would be beneficial if a large media organization such as AP attempted to codify what’s reasonable excerpting of its content on blogs.

On that I’m not so sure. It’s the law that gets to do this. We don’t let copyright holders define copyright for a very good reason: if we did they’d lock it down.

Bryan Price (user link) says:

Re: Re: Media Bloggers Association

We don’t let copyright holders define copyright for a very good reason: if we did they’d lock it down.

I thought they had already done that with the forever copyright extension.

An aside, the links for pricing of educational uses and non-profit (quick! get the 501c(3) in!) pricing goes to 404s.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re: Media Bloggers Association

I thought they had already [locked it down] with the forever copyright extension.

You may note that it is Congress doing that, not copyright holders. You can argue about the distinction between Congress enacting a law, and lobbyists handing them a law to enact, but either way a copyright holder cannot unilaterally decide what copyright law means. Encouraging them to do so would be a bad thing. Bloggers and anyone else should continue to use material from the AP and others under fair use guidelines, and under no circumstances should pay AP or anyone else a dime for anything that falls under fair use.

Dave Mastio (user link) says:

Re: Re: Media Bloggers Association

I don’t think that Cox and the MBA have ever claimed to represent ALL bloggers, but they do represent hundreds of bloggers and many prominent ones, so that gives them cred to act in these situations when individuals acting would be too weak or ad-hoc colaitions maybe too slow.

They are a useful way for bloggers to protect themselves from abuse by large media organizations.

Hulser says:

Re: Media Bloggers Association

Hello Mr. Cadenhead. I have a couple of questions about one of your statements…

It would be beneficial if a large media organization such as AP attempted to codify what’s reasonable excerpting of its content on blogs.
On one side, I can see it being a good thing that the AP makes clear what it considers fair use. At least a blogger would then know, up front, what would and would not draw the ire of the AP. But, as Mike alluded to in a previous post, isn’t this ultimately a matter for the law to decide? Based on the “fair use for bloggers” chart in Mike’s article, it looks to me that, when left to define the rules themselves, the AP comes up with ridiculous limits like anything over four words isn’t fair use and requires a fee.

Questions…

Do you see the AP’s definition of only four words as a reasonable definition of fair use?

By what process would you arrive at a standard for “fair use for bloggers” and who should have the final word on what this is?

Thank you.

Angorki Spytec says:

Re: Media Bloggers Association

Obvious to anyone who has attended an academy of higher education ‘reasonable excerpting’ would be exactly what is needed to be excerpted to convey the point in the original article which is involved in the subsequent discussion.

In a free society where discourse on topics is permitted and encouraged free excerpting (quoting) is required to further the discussion.

It is also obvious that the Associated Press is seriously afraid of loosing its status as ‘the essential global news network’ and instead of finding new ways to remain relevant in the market place has decided to bully everyone into kowtowing to it. (Oops, I quoted five words from APs website. Do I now owe it $12.50?)

Angorki Spytec says:

Re: Media Bloggers Association

Obvious to anyone who has attended an academy of higher education ‘reasonable excerpting’ would be exactly what is needed to be excerpted to convey the point in the original article which is involved in the subsequent discussion.

In a free society where discourse on topics is permitted and encouraged free excerpting (quoting) is required to further the discussion.

It is also obvious that the Associated Press is seriously afraid of loosing its status as ‘the essential global news network’ and instead of finding new ways to remain relevant in the market place has decided to bully everyone into kowtowing to it. (Oops, I quoted five words from APs website. Do I now owe it $12.50?)

Twelve Dollars for Five Words. says:

Re: Set the Reporters Free

Are you serious? Have you spent your entire life eating paint chips? Do you suffer from some kind of mental illness?

If you honestly believe that people should pay twelve dollars to quote five words, you are an enemy of freedom. If the AP can do it, so can CEOs, so can politician, so can criminals.

You are arguing that we should be forced to pay money to quote people; that we should pay money for the right to criticize and critique what others say.

Can’t afford to criticize someone? Tough luck.

How are you any better than Stalin?

Rogers Cadenhead (user link) says:

More from Robert Cox

Liza Sabater has an interview with Robert Cox that goes into detail on what his group is attempting to do here.

Why isn’t the AP reaching out to others? Who put Robert Cox in charge?

To answer your second question first: me, sorta.

If people or groups want to get involved in this, I’d be happy to help them do so. I’ve already put Cox together with the Stanford Fair Use Project.

The Media Bloggers Association doesn’t represent “all bloggers” any more than the ACLU represents “all journalists” if it takes a free-speech case. But speaking personally, I’m glad to find a group that can speak directly to the big issue here, which is the important speech right inherent in what AP sought to curtail with those DMCA takedowns.

You ought to interview Cox about the group, the number of DMCA takedowns and C&Ds being issued against blogs these days, and some things it is doing to protect the legal rights of bloggers.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: More from Robert Cox

Liza Sabater has an interview with Robert Cox that goes into detail on what his group is attempting to do here.

Aha. Well, that’s quite different than what the AP itself is saying. Robert Cox is representing *you* to the AP. I have no problem with that — and agree with you that it’s a good thing!

The Media Bloggers Association doesn’t represent “all bloggers” any more than the ACLU represents “all journalists” if it takes a free-speech case. But speaking personally, I’m glad to find a group that can speak directly to the big issue here, which is the important speech right inherent in what AP sought to curtail with those DMCA takedowns.

I agree with you on this — but the problem is that the AP seems to think that if it works out an agreement with Cox, who is representing you, then it has come to an agreement with anyone who blogs, no matter what the actual law says.

Perhaps that’s wrong, but that’s the story the AP seems to be spinning.

I think it’s great that you know Cox and that he’s willing to help you with this matter. But it worries me that the AP seems to think that talking to Cox is, by itself, “engaging” with bloggers to come up with a reasonable policy.

Liza Sabater (user link) says:

Re: Re: More from Robert Cox

I interviewed Robert this morning. Please go read the article.

http://culturekitchen.com/liza/blog/exclusive_robert_cox_answers_some_questions_about_

Cox clearly states Hansell over at NYT mischaracterized tomorrow’s meeting.

The AP is spinning this to their advantage and too many people are falling for their spin.

Cheers,
liza

Liza Sabater, Publisher
http://culturekitchen.com

Rick Calvert (user link) says:

Re: Re: More from Robert Cox

For those that don’t know Robert Cox was one of the first bloggers to be sued. This was the impetus for him to gather up several other bloggers and form the MBA. Since that time they have helped numerous bloggers with their legal defense pro bono and have been constant advocates of blogger rights.

So you may not think they represent you but in fact they do and when you get sued they will likely be one of the first people you call.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re: More from Robert Cox

So you may not think they represent you but in fact they do…

Um… what? Somebody can represent me without my consent or even my knowledge? I can see how somebody can claim to represent me in that situation, but that doesn’t make it so. Keep in mind Mike isn’t saying he objects to what the association is doing or saying, or disagrees with them, just pointing out he hasn’t had any association with them and isn’t represented by them.

Jason (profile) says:

Re: Re: More from Robert Cox

Seriously, I checked out Liza’s blog. She gently, factually ripped ’em one.

“Not only did he describe bloggers as “free wheeling”, but Hansell made it look like the boycott…was going to be over once the Associated Press had discussions “with representatives of the Media Bloggers Association” that would produce “guidelines” to impose on bloggers.”

Worth a peek.

Rogers Cadenhead (user link) says:

Fair Use

Do you see the AP’s definition of only four words as a reasonable definition of fair use?

Absolutely not! If AP’s assertion of copyright goes all the way down to a blogger running an excerpt of one to three sentences of a news article, in the course of linking to it, they’re coming up against thousands of blogs and social news sites that engage in linking and excerpting. When the quotes are short, I think AP and its member clients should recognize that fair use works to their benefit.

The amount of traffic media sites get from bloggers is considerable. On an NPR show today, I heard that 20 percent of the New York Times’ web traffic is referred by blogs.

Spuds (profile) says:

I... am an asshole...

Mike… feel free to delete this if it puts YOU at risk… but here’s what I think of AP trying to pull this shit…

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Tuesday said they have reached a long-awaited cease-fire with Israel meant to end months of Palestinian assaults on Israeli border towns and bruising Israeli retaliation.

The announcement came shortly after Egypt, which has been trying to broker the truce for months, said the cease-fire would go into effect on Thursday. Israel refused to confirm a deal, but said a “new reality” would take hold if Palestinian attacks end.

In a last-minute jolt, Israeli aircraft attacked three targets in the southern Gaza Strip. One of the airstrikes destroyed a car, killing six militants inside.

A large crowd gathered around the car’s smoldering remains, and a puddle of blood was visible on the asphalt. Gaza militants then fired four mortar shells at Israel, the first of the day, the military said. No one was hurt.

Hamas officials accused Israel of trying to undermine the truce, but said they would not let the violence derail the Egyptian efforts.

“We are going to commit ourselves to the start time that Egypt is going to declare regarding the calm,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. However, the group’s television station said the movement would respond to “any Zionist aggression,” underscoring the delicate situation.

Egypt’s powerful intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, has been meeting separately with Israeli and Hamas officials for months in hopes of brokering a truce.

Israel has been seeking a halt to rocket attacks launched from Gaza nearly every day, an end to Hamas’ weapons buildup, and the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas for two years.

Hamas, meanwhile, wants an end to Israel’s military activity in Gaza and the lifting of an Israeli blockade that has caused widespread destitution in the already impoverished coastal strip.

In Washington, the State Department declined to confirm reports of a truce, but said it was supportive of efforts to bring calm to Gaza and southern Israel while insisting that Hamas remained a terrorist organization.

“We believe that establishing calm in Gaza and elsewhere is a good thing and we’re supportive of Egyptian efforts and other efforts to achieve this,” deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

“But saying you have a loaded gun to my head but you are not going to fire it today is far different than taking the gun down, locking it up and saying you’re not going to use it again,” he said. “Even if this is in fact a true report, it hardly takes Hamas out of the terrorism business.”

The state-run Egyptian news agency MENA cited an unidentified high-level Egyptian official as saying both sides “have agreed on the first phase” of an Egyptian-mediated package to end the violence in Gaza.

It said the first phase would be a “mutual and simultaneous calm” in the Gaza Strip beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday.

An Egyptian official told The Associated Press that if the area is quiet for three days, Israel would begin to open Gaza’s border crossings to let more humanitarian supplies into the area. A week later, Israel would allow in additional goods.

The official said in a final phase Israel would consider reopening Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt. The Rafah crossing is the main route for Gaza’s 1.4 million people to leave the area. Israel and Egypt closed the crossing in June 2007 after Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, a move that has confined the vast majority of Gazans inside the coastal strip for the past year.

The deal is meant to last for six months, he said, and includes the possibility of extending a truce to the West Bank, where Israeli regularly conducts arrest raids targeting militants.

A Hamas official said the Rafah deal would be connected to the release of the Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid two years ago. Israel has balked at Hamas’ demand for a release of hundreds of militants held in Israeli jails.

The Egyptian and Hamas official both spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not permitted to go on the record with the information.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would not confirm or deny a deal.

“What is important is not only words but deeds. If there is a total absence of terror attacks from Gaza into Israel and if there is an end to arms buildup in Gaza Strip and movement on the hostage Gilad Schalit that will indeed be a new reality.”

A Hamas official said talks on Schalit would begin after the initial three days of quiet. Israeli defense officials said they expect negotiations on the soldier to begin on Sunday, an apparent confirmation of the truce’s conditions.

Israel’s chief negotiator, Amos Gilad, was suddenly dispatched Tuesday evening to Egypt.

Hamas has ruled Gaza with an iron fist, and the cease-fire is expected to include other Palestinian groups. Khaled al-Batch of the Islamic Jihad, a small Iranian-backed group responsible for much of the rocket fire, said his faction would be “committed to this calm as much as the occupation is committed.”

Gaza militants have been bombarding southern Israel with rockets and mortars for seven years. The rate of fire increased after Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005 and stepped up further last year after Hamas wrested power from forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel has responded with pinpoint air and ground attacks that have killed hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians. It has also imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, letting in only limited amounts of humanitarian aid, restricting fuel supplies and widening already rampant unemployment. Ending the economic sanctions by opening Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt has been a major Hamas demand in the cease-fire talks.

Although the Rafah crossing lies on the Gaza-Egypt border, Europeans monitoring the passage require Israeli security clearance to operate. That clearance has not been given since Hamas took over Gaza.

Much skepticism has surrounded the talks, and not only because past accords — most recently, a November 2006 deal — have broken down fairly quickly.

Israel is suspicious of Hamas’ motives, especially since the militant group has declared it would take advantage of any lull to rearm. Israel also is reluctant to legitimize Hamas’ rule in Gaza through a truce agreement. Hamas rejects the existence of a Jewish state and has killed more than 250 Israelis in suicide bombings.

But with the Israeli government under heavy domestic pressure to halt the rocket fire, the choices were a truce or a broad invasion of Gaza.

Israel has been reluctant to launch an offensive in Gaza, fearing heavy casualties in the crowded urban environment.

There. Bite that, AP.

JP (user link) says:

What about Photos?

What about photos? Do you consider a photo an original piece of work? Do you consider it something you can copyright? Would you use one of the AP photos on your site without paying for it?

Something to think about; because photos are original works and are copyrighted. If you use an AP photo you will should have to pay for the rights to publish this work. Same should be said for text also. Ofcource I am referring to publishing the entire text of an article.

Step out of the box.

Peace

JP

Some Blogger says:

Re: What about Photos?

“What about photos? Do you consider a photo an original piece of work? Do you consider it something you can copyright? Would you use one of the AP photos on your site without paying for it?”

Well, in Fair Use, if I saw an image of crying Middle Eastern Women with photoshopped bomb smoke in the background and suspected that it was not a real image….. well I think under fair use I should be able to post this image. To point out I disagree with their deceptive journalism.

Jeremy Boyd says:

Mike,

Read the article you’re linking to (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hqcKwCoLO6JDount0qNG9XSrvojwD91BEK6O0). There we find a scholar associated with Harvard claiming that draconian rules about TEN words would be going too far. We also find this gem: “Kennedy said the AP had no intention of making such strict rules or setting any kind of legal standard.”

This is the AP’s own text.

broadmeadow says:

AP is nuts, but bloggers only have themselves to blame

AP is way overreacting, but I suspect it got fed up with its content being poached and posted in huge chunks on blogs.

To test this theory I went to Yahoo and read an AP story dated Saturday about the Obama campaign. I then Googled a sentence towards the end of the story. Guess what? There were dozens of blogs, including some quite well known ones, that had posted all or nearly all of the story. About half had links to the source of the pilfered story, and half did not. (Those with links were saying, essentially, “I’ve just stolen your content, but here, let me add a link that no one needs to click on anymore and we’ll call it even.”) Some removed all credit to the reporter or AP.

That’s why all this handwringing and all these cries of “fair use” from bloggers rings pretty hollow. Reminds me of the mewing from college students when they found out it was illegal to download copyrighted music.

AnonymousChicken says:

Here's an idea

Let’s all stop reading and sourcing the AP entirely. They only survive because people license content from them. Hit them in the pocketbooks – stop reading papers and blogs that continue to rely on AP content. There’s other sources, there’s other networks. Make them realize they’ve gone over the line.

edd says:

ok...

I challenge you people to find a ‘reputable’ news agency that doesn’t use AP source stories.

It’s like how ESPN claims they ‘can confirm’ somename coach was hired.. even though it was broken by the local reporters.

Does EPSN credit the people that did the leg work and broke the story? No.

They just say they can CONFIRM that it took place and yet they are the ‘news source’ for sports.

AP might be run poorly but the world would be far worse off if we weren’t provided the news the AP writers give us.

I don’t see tv show hosts actually doing any research on the stories they read off the teleprompter. So where exactly do you think this other grunt work will come from?

The reality is people on the internet break copyright laws all the time from a lack of understanding and/or ethics.

lol says:

AP: Exams prove abuse, torture in Iraq, Gitmo

For the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far, Physicians for Human Rights had doctors and mental health professionals examine 11 former prisoners. The group alleges finding evidence of U.S. torture and war crimes and accuses U.S. military health professionals of allowing the abuse of detainees, denying them medical care and providing confidential medical information to interrogators that they then exploited.

“Some of these men really are, several years later, very severely scarred,” said Barry Rosenfeld, a psychology professor at Fordham University who conducted psychological tests on six of the 11 detainees covered by the study. “It’s a testimony to how bad those conditions were and how personal the abuse was.”

One Iraqi prisoner, identified only as Yasser, reported being subjected to electric shocks three times and being sodomized with a stick. His thumbs bore round scars consistent with shocking, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press. He would not allow a full rectal exam.

Another Iraqi, identified only as Rahman, reported he was humiliated by being forced to wear women’s underwear, stripped naked and paraded in front of female guards, and was shown pictures of other naked detainees. The psychological exam found that Rahman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had sexual problems related to his humiliation, the report said.

Mark R (profile) says:

AP

First off, it’s clear none of you guys understand what the AP is, nor what it does. The Associated Press, which has been around since 1848, is a nonprofit cooperative owned by its members. Members include almost every newspaper in the United States, almost every commercial television station, and most non-commercial television stations, many radio stations, all the networks and many magazines. Membership is expensive, running to thousands of dollars a year for medium-size facilities. Members are expected to produce their own content (how many bloggers do their own legwork and reporting?) which then is shared with the other members. The fees pay for additional reporting and the distribution costs.
That’s the price the mainstream media pay for the right to distribute AP content to its readers.
The AP has always sold portions of its report to non-members. Want an AP photo? It’s for SALE, not for free.
If bloggers want to join the AP, pay the assessment and contribute original reporting which would be shared by all members, they should.

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