iCopyright Sues AP... Saying It Didn't Promote The 'Pay Up To Quote 5 Words' Service

from the isue dept

You may recall, a couple of years back, the Associated Press got a ton of negative attention for threatening bloggers who "quote too much" of AP articles. Soon after that, we were among those who noticed that the AP had a deal with a company called iCopyright, which seemed to suggest that "fair use" quotes were limited to four words or less. After that, rates started at $12.50 to quote five words. The AP later came out and said that this was entirely different, but to this date has never adequately explained when its deal with iCopyright applies and when it does not. This got some attention earlier this year, when the cheeky folks at Woot mocked the AP over this after the AP quoted Woot's CEO from his blog. Separately, some others noticed that the iCopyright system on the AP's site was so screwed up that you could just put in any text you wanted and "license" it -- even if it wasn't the AP's to license.

Basically, the whole iCopyright setup with the AP was a mess. And it just got messier.

The details are still limited (due to excessive redacting in the legal filing), but iCopyright has now sued the Associated Press, apparently claiming "that the AP frustrated its ability to do business, both neglecting to promote the service, as well as locking the company out of its servers." It's also claiming that the AP's silly attempt to DRM the news is an attempt to compete with iCopyright using what it learned from the company.

I do wonder if the PR fiasco from a couple years ago contributed to this. The AP never really clarified when the "pay for 5 words" license applied and when it didn't. While the AP put out a notice claiming that it didn't actually apply to bloggers, it was never clear why. And, confusion still reigned. In the article I link to above, in fact, the reporter notes that the iCopyright licenses were for bloggers -- even though the AP has explicitly claimed that it wasn't for bloggers. As Danny Sullivan pointed out in the first comment to this story, the AP has never done a good job explaining just when iCopyright applied.... and now the AP may be facing a lawsuit over that very point.


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