AP in Huge Blow-up over 'Fair Use' of their stories

Rick Moran
This is a story that is an object lesson for mainstream news organizations as well as new media watchers.

The fundamental lesson; don't mess with bloggers.

The Associated Press sent a letter to several bloggers last week threatening to sue them over AP's definition of "fair use" under the copyright laws of the United States. To say their idea of fair use was narrow, silly, and insulting to bloggers would be an understatement.

What AP never bargained for was a war. With lightening speed, petitions have circulated around the internet calling on bloggers and site owners to boycott AP stories. So far, hundreds have signed on with many big bloggers joining smaller ones in the effort.

Jeff Jarvis, new media analyst and philosopher, gives it to AP right between the eyes:

In Saul Hansell's NY Times report on the AP affair, they only dig themselves deeper, saying they don't want us to quote their stories but to summarize them. That, you see, is the AP way: the mill. That is not our way: the ethic of the quote and link. The AP is still trying to preserve its way. But, as I often say, protection is no strategy for the future. In the story - which, note, I'm only summarizing here, without the quotes from the AP that might better state its stance (ahem) - the agency comes off like a policy ping-pong game, going back and forth: We want to threaten but not to sue, we want to be reasonable but we're still going to demand that Cadenhead take down excerpts, we don't know what the hell to do. Maybe back off, AP. Because we won't.

: Later... A few more points...

* Remember, AP, you declared war on the bloggers. Remember that.

* I don't really give a damn what your guidelines are. I have my own guidelines. I stated them below. The point of fair use and fair comment is that there can be no set guidelines. That's just ridiculous.

* I will say again that the AP should start using our linking and quoting guidelines rather than its homogenization practices.

Jarvis is only one of many who think AP is digging themselves a hole to oblivion. Their narrow minded view of just how information is disseminated in the internet age only goes to show how truly out of touch they are. Were bloggers to boycott their stories, they will have millions of fewer readers. And there are many mainstream news publications that use blogs to determine what stories are important at any given time. I daresay AP will lose out if none of their stories are showing up on blogs and subsequently ignored by potential customers.

One of the biggest tech websites, Techcrunch, has banned AP stories and
Michael Arrington minces no words in saying why:

The A.P. doesn't get to make it's own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it's clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don't exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model - paid content.

So here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they don't exist. We don't see them, we don't quote them, we don't link to them. They're banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

Bloggers look at the dust up with AP and shrug their shoulders. No reason to use AP's stuff when there's Reuters, AFP, and other news services that are covering the exact same story and don't try to restrict information flow on the internet.

As Jarvis headlined his post; AP, Hole, Dig....
This is a story that is an object lesson for mainstream news organizations as well as new media watchers.

The fundamental lesson; don't mess with bloggers.

The Associated Press sent a letter to several bloggers last week threatening to sue them over AP's definition of "fair use" under the copyright laws of the United States. To say their idea of fair use was narrow, silly, and insulting to bloggers would be an understatement.

What AP never bargained for was a war. With lightening speed, petitions have circulated around the internet calling on bloggers and site owners to boycott AP stories. So far, hundreds have signed on with many big bloggers joining smaller ones in the effort.

Jeff Jarvis, new media analyst and philosopher, gives it to AP right between the eyes:

In Saul Hansell's NY Times report on the AP affair, they only dig themselves deeper, saying they don't want us to quote their stories but to summarize them. That, you see, is the AP way: the mill. That is not our way: the ethic of the quote and link. The AP is still trying to preserve its way. But, as I often say, protection is no strategy for the future. In the story - which, note, I'm only summarizing here, without the quotes from the AP that might better state its stance (ahem) - the agency comes off like a policy ping-pong game, going back and forth: We want to threaten but not to sue, we want to be reasonable but we're still going to demand that Cadenhead take down excerpts, we don't know what the hell to do. Maybe back off, AP. Because we won't.

: Later... A few more points...

* Remember, AP, you declared war on the bloggers. Remember that.

* I don't really give a damn what your guidelines are. I have my own guidelines. I stated them below. The point of fair use and fair comment is that there can be no set guidelines. That's just ridiculous.

* I will say again that the AP should start using our linking and quoting guidelines rather than its homogenization practices.

Jarvis is only one of many who think AP is digging themselves a hole to oblivion. Their narrow minded view of just how information is disseminated in the internet age only goes to show how truly out of touch they are. Were bloggers to boycott their stories, they will have millions of fewer readers. And there are many mainstream news publications that use blogs to determine what stories are important at any given time. I daresay AP will lose out if none of their stories are showing up on blogs and subsequently ignored by potential customers.

One of the biggest tech websites, Techcrunch, has banned AP stories and
Michael Arrington minces no words in saying why:

The A.P. doesn't get to make it's own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it's clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don't exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model - paid content.

So here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they don't exist. We don't see them, we don't quote them, we don't link to them. They're banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

Bloggers look at the dust up with AP and shrug their shoulders. No reason to use AP's stuff when there's Reuters, AFP, and other news services that are covering the exact same story and don't try to restrict information flow on the internet.

As Jarvis headlined his post; AP, Hole, Dig....