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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  1. identicon
    Mike, 16 Jun 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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