AP Exaggerates The 'Conversation' It's Having With Bloggers; Caught Copying Text From Bloggers As Well

from the and-it-gets-worse dept

The situation with the Associated Press and its rapidly disintegrating relationship with bloggers keeps getting worse. First up, as a bunch of folks have sent in, some bloggers are noting that, despite the AP’s own claims about quotes over five words long no longer being fair use, AP reporters often quote huge chunks of text from bloggers. That link discusses an AP article just this week that quoted 154 words from a blog. So will these “new guidelines” that the AP is supposedly working on with bloggers include guidelines for itself? What about payment and licensing terms? And, honestly, what happens if a blog now quotes the passages quoted in the AP article itself. At 154 words, will they receive a DMCA takedown notice?

Oh, and as for that supposed “meeting” to hammer out guidelines with the “Media Bloggers Association,” it turns out that’s quite an exaggeration as well. With a bunch of folks questioning who put the previously unheard of “Media Bloggers Association” in charge of determining what bloggers will accept, an interview with the head of that group shows that his meeting isn’t to hammer out any such guidelines — but was simply intended to present the Drudge Retort’s side of the story. Rogers Cadenhead asked the head of the group to speak on his behalf to the AP. It’s the AP that’s turned this meeting into the Media Bloggers Association representing all bloggers, rather than just Cadenhead.

So, now we’ve got the AP caught not just breaking its own rules (by a wide, wide margin), but also exaggerating the nature of the “conversation” it’s supposedly having with the bloggers who are upset by its actions. Do people still think that bloggers were overreacting in calling the AP out on its actions?

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Comments on “AP Exaggerates The 'Conversation' It's Having With Bloggers; Caught Copying Text From Bloggers As Well”

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Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:


Did someone say press?

Ah, yes, one of those antique thingummies from 1436 or so.

As to what’s associated with the press, I’d say it was ancient, anachronistic traditions and royal privileges that are completely out of place in the instantaneous diffusion of our global digital domain we call the Internet.

Ye shalle not copy a worde that the printer of it hast not given thee leave.

How quaint…

Anonymous Coward says:

What bothers me the most

There are a lot of things not to like about what AP is trying to do. But the thing that bothers me the most is their threat to take down anyone who quotes AP and then criticizes AP. It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of First Amendment issue that a news organization should oppose, not one it should promote.

Hulser says:

Re: What bothers me the most

But the thing that bothers me the most is their threat to take down anyone who quotes AP and then criticizes AP.

I’d have to agree here. Even if the AP didn’t have a ridiculous definition of fair use as only four words and the issue was the “no criticism clause”, I think the reaction would (or at least should) have been the same. We can’t quote you if we’re going to be critical of you? Please! That’s one of the basic principles of fair use, that someone gets to reference a part of your work in a critical review. If someone wants to write a piece to attempt to prove the AP’s bias and uses enough language from their articles to make the point, that’s perfectly legitimate.

Ooops says:

Now who would quaote an AP story?

Considering the fact that TechDirt is not responsible for my actions, I hereby provide an AP quote for your amusement. Since they are using a bloggers statements without permission, I feel free to do the same:

Judge’s wife derides media on Web site story


The Associated Press


A federal appeals court judge under scrutiny for sexually explicit videos and photos posted on a personal Web site is the victim of distortions and “outright lies” published by the Los Angeles Times, his wife charged Monday.

Marcy Jane Tiffany, wife of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, described some of the material stored on the home computer as raunchy and juvenile. Only a handful of files among hundreds had a “sexual aspect,” but they were not pornography, she said.

“Alex is not into porn he is into funny and sometimes funny has a sexual character,” Tiffany wrote in a nearly 2,000-word defense of her husband, posted on a Web site called patterico.com.

Of the several hundred files in the computer folder at issue, “the vast majority was cute, amusing and not in the least bit sexual in nature,” Tiffany, a Torrance, Calif., lawyer, wrote. “The tiny percentage of the material that was sexual in nature was all of a humorous character.”

The Times account is “riddled with half-truths, gross mischaracterizations and outright lies,” she said. She also faulted the media for repeating and embellishing what she described as misleading statements in the Times about the material.

The newspaper’s California editor, David Lauter, said in a statement that the articles were fair and accurate and “speak for themselves.”

The stories “raised important issues on a matter of significant public concern,” Lauter said. “The judge was presented with the facts … and was given a full opportunity to respond. We took his responses into account before publication and included what he said in our stories.”

Those articles, Lauter added, “already have dealt with the salient issues.”

Meanwhile Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts named five judges from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, to handle the ethics investigation into the Kozinski’s conduct.

Kozinski called for the probe after news articles about the Web site were published. Separately, Kozinski last week declared a mistrial in an obscenity trial over which he was presiding.

The now-blocked material on the Web site, alex.kozinski.com, included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows, and a video of a man being pursued by a sexually aroused donkey. The Times said the site included images of masturbation, and a slide show featuring a striptease with a transsexual.

In a brief telephone interview, Tiffany confirmed the authenticity of the Web statement that appeared under her name. She declined further comment, except to quote the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

“A newspaper … is supposed to be a responsible member of the community, not a predator,” she wrote in the Web statement.

The Times’ stories leave “the impression that Alex was actively aware of all of the material, when, in fact, it had accumulated over a number of years and he didn’t even remember that some of that stuff had been stored there or whether it had been put there by him or one of our sons, who also have access to the server,” she aid.

The video with the man being chased by the donkey is “crude and juvenile, for sure, but not by any stretch of the imagination is it bestiality,” she said. The Times wrote that sexual material on the site was “extensive,” when in fact it was limited to “about a half-dozen items,” she said.

The judge, who has three sons, has said he builds his own computers but told the Times he didn’t know the Web site was accessible to Internet surfers.

In an interview with the Times last week, Kozinski acknowledged posting sexual content on his Web site. He defended some of the adult content as “funny,” but conceded that other postings were inappropriate, the newspaper said.

One of his sons, Yale Kozinski, later told The New York Times that the site is registered to him and he maintains it, but neither father nor son made clear who posted the images in question.

Federal rules say judges should “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Published: Monday, June 16, 2008 16:35 PDT

ileen4justice says:

From http://blog.asurroca.com/2008/06/18/four-words-ap-sucks/:

“Apparently, the Associated Press, in a noble effort to appear as much as an obsolete dinosaur as possible, has rules barring bloggers from citing more than four words out of an AP article without paying fees. See the deets at Boing Boing.

This got me thinking: What would AP headlines look like were everything past the first four words chopped off. I checked out recent AP headlines and here are a few perfectly legal fair use citations from the AP, under their stringent rules:

“Bali bomber warns of”
“Hundreds of same-sex couples”
“Cuban TV shows new”
“Celtics rout Lakers 131-92″
“Clinton asks top donors”
“Mississippi River breaks through”
“Bush to urge Congress”
“Probe: Pentagon lawyers sought”

These spartan headlines are almost more eye-catching than the five-or-more word headlines available at the AP’s site. Perhaps I’m on to something.”

Redoubt says:

AP's gamble to destroy Fair Use

There’s a game being played right now… one with smoke and mirrors and slight of hand.

First of all, the AP comes out of nowhere and attacks a single blog.
After allowing enough time for word of this action to spread and create the uproar that followed, the AP switches gears. Now they are the benevolent mega-corpo-media… a misty vision of Miss Congeniality if you will, that wants to write a new set of rules, for them and by them.

Next, they use a group of media bloggers (oxymoron?), the Media Bloggers Association, to create the illusion of genuine negotiations but where the sole effort will be the trashing of the Fair Use Doctrine.

It’s a really grand scheme because if the majority of the blogsphere can be convinced to voluntarily abandon Fair Use in favor of this new matrix, they… the MSM in general, and the AP specifically, will have crippled those hated bloggers.

To combat this effort, bloggers need to reinforce their support for the Fair Use Doctrine and make sure they clearly state that they neither recognize nor support any faux agreement between the AP and the hitherto unknown Media Bloggers Association.

John (profile) says:

Breaking its own rules?

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see how the AP is breaking its own rules. It says that bloggers need a license or pay a fee to use content from them. But, it says nothing about the reverse: the AP is free to take, quote, and link to whomever it feels like.
Now, if the “Bloggers Union” (or whomever) want to try to license their content to AP, then that’s a different issue.

In the meantime, AP isn’t breaking their own rules, but it is bad form… just like Viacom suing YouTube yet Viacom (on its VH1 TV shows) uses videos found on YouTube.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Breaking its own rules?

But they are arguing what the edge of fair use is, a legal concept, this means that they feel this is the end of the law and if they say that it is illegal to quote more than this in an article without a license, it would apply to them. As to them being able to do what they want and have others follow their terms, that would only apply if they were not arguing a legal concept.

saint says:

“How about there is NO DIFFERENCE between the standards of fair use for “Professional Journalism” and for any other person.”

Do you seriously believe this? Say what you want about professional journalists, but they DO have degrees in the field and professional training. The majority of bloggers do not.

bailey (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Do you seriously believe this? Say what you want about professional journalists, but they DO have degrees in the field and professional training. The majority of bloggers do not.”

first off saying that all journalists have some sort of degree is misleading and disingenuous let alone the assumption that the degree they hold is a journalistic one. Then on top of that to assume that the law recognizes the difference between the rights of one person and the rights of another because one is somehow more qualified. When the distinction of that definition is so vague as to be non existent is naive.

Bill Enator says:

Re: Re:

Saint – First off “Fair Use”, Copyright, Hot News are all legal concepts and there is no difference in the protections and rights they afforded to someone based on their profession or education. These are First Ammendment, constitutional issues.

Second, Journalism school is not a requirement to be a professional reporter. There is no board certification that some governing body enforces, the government that licenses journalists. There are journalists that perform quite well with out going to J-School. Just as there are bloggers that have J-School degrees.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re:

What majority is that? Please cite your sources.

In actually, all it takes to be a professional journalist is to earn money through journalism. Boom! You’re a professional.

But, really. I would like to know

a) how you define professional jounralists
b) how you know that they all have degrees
c) exactly what field that degree is in
e) what training they ALL get (from Podunk, OK to New York, New York)
f) and repeat the questions for the bloggers.


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