Monday, June 16, 2008

AP to Define Guidelines for Blog Use of Articles; Continues Hardline Stance

You'll recall my earlier post about the DMCA takedown notices issued to the Drudge Retort, a site which seems guilty of nothing more than a bad pun - and of "fair use" of brief excerpts. The AP seems to still have not "gotten" blogging, and although it pulled back a little - it still plans to place restrictions on bloggers that make me want to say "Hello, Reuters!"

The AP has backed off slightly, but not entirely, after rampant criticism from the blogosphere. On Friday, AP issued a statement defending its actions. In an email, AP said:
We get concerned, however, when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste. That’s not good for original content creators; nor is it consistent with the link-based culture of the Internet that bloggers have cultivated so well.

In this particular case, we have had direct and helpful communication with the site in question, focusing only on these issues.
The seven items AP requested be removed? They contained excerpts from AP articles only a few sentences in length, maximum.

On Saturday, Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of AP, told the New York Times that AP's letter to the Drudge Retort was "heavy-handed" and that the news organization would rethink its policies.
“We don’t want to cast a pall over the blogosphere by being heavy-handed, so we have to figure out a better and more positive way to do this,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy said the company was going to meet with representatives of the Media Bloggers Association, a trade group, and others. He said he hopes that these discussions can all occur this week so that guidelines can be released soon.
Guidelines? Essentially, AP will "attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright."

Wow. "Fair use" has always been loosely defined, so now AP wants to firmly define it by itself? While AP says it's backing off its original stance, and it has, somewhat, this is still pretty hardline.

Reaction has been swift: TechCrunch, for example, has banned any linking to AP stories on its site.

AP has been struggling of late. Looking at some other companies that are struggling, such as Motorola, or even newspapers in general, much of that struggle has involved a slowness to embrace new technologies and ideas. AP: get a clue.

The blogosphere is here to stay. These sorts of restrictions will just push people to other news bureaus: not good for you, and not good for your members. Try to embrace Web 2.0, not fight it.

Update:

Check out Bloggasm's conversation about The Drudge Retort's run-in with AP.
“It’s possible that they’re just becoming more regressive in this area,” he replied. “If they’re up there selling a service that’s just headlines, titles and ledes, they can see what happens on blogs as a threat to that business. It’s hard to say though because for me they’re not communicating with me on any of this. There’s not really a dialog where they say ‘it’s OK for you to do this as long as you don’t do this.’ They’re saying everything is illegal…This is a social news site. I have to communicate to my users what’s permissible and what isn’t, but they make that difficult because they don’t tell anyone what’s allowed.”
Huh, reminds me of what people say about Comcast's foggy usage limits. Tell us, why don't you? Then we can get even more angry.


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