Associated Press hits bottom, digs

From Boing Boing via Free Republic:

In the name of “defin[ing] clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt” the Associated Press is now selling “quotation licenses” that allow bloggers, journallers, and people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. The licensing system exhorts you to snitch on people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in reward money (they also think that “fair use” — the right to copy without permission — means “Contact the owner of the work to be sure you are covered under fair use.”).

It gets better! If you pay to quote the AP, but you offend the AP in so doing, the AP “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.”

Suggestion to the AP: Take one of those lawyers that you’re cocking and locking to launch at bedroom bloggers like me, and have him go look up something called fair use. You might be surprised.

The Associated Press reminds me of a dinosaur, peacefully munching ferns in the jungle, and when it sees the giant meteor hurtling through the sky that spells its doom, it rears up and hisses at it. As one of the comments at Free Republic put it: “At first I thought market evolution was killing off the lamestream media. These days, I’m convinced the MSM is determined to commit suicide as quickly as possible.”


13 Responses to “Associated Press hits bottom, digs”

  1. torteya Says:

    Thing we agree on numero dos! Is this the first or second horseman?

    … Ohmygod, what have we done!? 😛

    Now seriously, what the hell? It’s like they’re stuck in 1997 or something. Really weird (not to mention stupid, of course) behavior for such a global company.

  2. Itanya Blade Says:

    Yeah, I can see the EFF already lining their sights on that mess.

  3. Deutsch: Der Fluch des AP! « Torteya Says:

    […] I was thinking about the whole AP acting like it was the 1940’s deal. Just who the hell quotes an article using four words or less? […]

  4. Razoras Says:

    I don’t see a ton wrong with trying to arrange an except license agreement that will allow bloggers to copy and paste an excerpt into their blog for a nominal fee. That said, the agreement as indicated by the Boing Boing article is way too narrow and way too pricey. Especially if that’s $12.50 per excerpt and not some kind of annual fee.

  5. Lewis Says:

    Thing is (if Wikipedia can be trusted–and remember, I’m not a lawyer and was nowhere near a Holiday Inn Express last night), you can’t just exempt yourself from the doctrine of fair use by just saying “fair use doesn’t apply here, neener.” You can apply reasonable restrictions to keep people from stealing your stuff wholesale, yeah. But charging somebody to quote five words from your article? They know nobody is going to pay that. They’re literally trying to build their own law around their articles, ignoring the precedents of fair use and related copyright law. They’re trying to shut down any sort of quoting at all…which is bizarre in this day and age, with the spread of the Internet and blogs. It’s suicidal. I fully expect the bad publicity will cause them to back off.

  6. Itanya Blade Says:

    It’s not just that. The AP is used by the majority of news agencies. A blogger could be sued by quoting something they read from another news site as well.

  7. Razoras Says:

    “They’re literally trying to build their own law around their articles, ignoring the precedents of fair use and related copyright law.”

    I think that’s an exaggeration. They see activity they feel violates their copyrights and are acting accordingly. They aren’t trying to re-write copyright law. If you feel you’re protected by Fair Use, then continue to do what you want to do. There’s a lot of things that are not very well addressed by existing copyright law; some things will eventually need to be dealt with by the courts if Congress doesn’t get to it first. Indeed, AP is already tangling with big dogs like Google over this very thing.

    “I fully expect the bad publicity will cause them to back off.”

    I have no doubt they will. They’ve already opened a dialog as shown in the link Itanya provided earlier. They don’t mind links, but they really have a problem with copy-paste treatment. Now we see how much they’re willing to compromise on this silly 25 word thing… this paragraph is bigger than 25 words.

  8. mikeytherhino Says:

    There is a meeting going on tomorrow between some leader of a Blog organization and the director of strategic planning at the ap. Even if they come up with an agreement, that does not mean I will abide by it. I won’t go quietly. I’ll quote as i please. I don’t push and qoute alot, but I will not go looking for some standard set by some corporation to see if I’m doing it properly by their lights either.

    NO. JUST NO.

  9. torteya Says:

    If you feel you’re protected by Fair Use, then continue to do what you want to do.
    Well, the problem here is that (from what I remember) they just went after some small blogger(s?). Kinda like how the MPAA/RIAA go after “defenseless” college kids. Of course they are going to go after people who they know won’t be able to bear the expense of defending themselves. Lawsuit-bullying is nothing new to large corporations.

    I think the whole “meeting with some self-proclaimed representatives of teh blogz” deal just goes to reinforce the idea that the AP is just clueless (and the Media Bloggers Association just come off as power/media whores) about the new and exciting world of tubes. Blogs aren’t some cohesive conglomerate with a chain of command. It’s not like striking a deal with the Union Leader or something.

  10. Razoras Says:

    I don’t think we’re at the point where we can call the AP’s behavior equivalent to the lawsuit-bullying the RIAA has continued to pursue. Just because they chose to go after a “little guy” doesn’t mean they’re setting a pattern. I suppose you could argue that they’re trying to make an example, maybe, or are hoping to cause a chilling effect.

    Sounds more like a lot of the views expressed here and other blogs are mostly just anti-corporate and this is some kind of Hollywood style struggle against The Corps and for Freedom of Speech. I think it’s a little too early to paint that picture and that it’s a little too early to start rallying the troops.

  11. Lewis Says:

    I think they’re exactly trying to cause a chilling effect. I can’t see them making a huge amount of money off of this.

    They have the right to protect the ownership of their intellectual property, I agree with that. The problem is, this extreme solution–first going after the Drudge Retort for printing 40-word quotations, and then this inane $12.50-for-five-word “quote license”–flies in the face of existing law regarding fair use. It’s one thing to go after somebody who is putting AP stories on their website and not attributing the AP, trying to pass them off as their own. But if you have a commentary site like, say, HuffPo or Free Republic or the Drudge Retort, that puts just quotes from AP articles on their site, and properly attributes them and links to the originals, then that to me seems pretty clear-cut as to fair use. The snippets are posted for the purposes of commentary and discussion.

    Although, Free Republic ran into a lawsuit with the New York Times and Washington Post several years ago in which they reached a settlement–FR were not allowed to post full articles from those sources, they had to excerpt the articles (typically 300 words max) and link back to the originals, and then everything was OK. Some content owners even restrict their articles to link-only, no quotations at all. All Gannett publications (USA Today, Army Times, Navy Times) and the Detroit Free Press are two examples.

  12. Mommacow Says:

    From “For more than a century” “and a half, men and” “women of The Associated Press” “have had the privilege of” “bringing truth to the world.”

    Hm. Yeah, you can get your point across five words at a time. Should I go ahead and buy you that license, dear?

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