Associated Press Raises Copyright/Fair Use StinkJun 16th, 2008 | By James Lewin | Category: Citizen Media, Podcasting Law
The Associated Press, after sending cease and desist letters to the social media site Drudge Retort, plans to release guidelines that explain how much of its articles and media bloggers and Web sites can copy within fair use rights:
The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances. For example, a book reviewer is allowed to quote passages from the work without permission from the publisher.
Fair use has become an essential concept to many bloggers, who often quote portions of articles before discussing them. The A.P., a cooperative owned by 1,500 daily newspapers, including The New York Times, provides written articles and broadcast material to thousands of news organizations and Web sites that pay to use them.
The Associated Press’s action on the Drudge Retort was seen by many in the blogging world as heavy handed.
Some bloggers are throwing up their hands and abandoning their fair use rights to avoid the issue. For example, at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington has instituted a new policy on AP stories – they’re banned from the site.
“They do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law. They claim that the activity is an infringement.
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.”
Others are more open to the AP clarifying its stance.
“There are millions of people sharing links to news articles on blogs, message boards and sites like Digg,” said Rogers Cadenhead, the owner of the Drudge Retort. “If The A.P. has concerns that go all the way down to one or two sentences of quoting, they need to tell people what they think is legal and where the boundaries are.”
“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,” said AP VP Jim Kennedy.
On Friday, The A.P. issued a statement saying it was going to challenge blog postings containing excerpts of A.P. articles “when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste.”
Kennedy said the company plans meet with bloggers this week so that guidelines for reuse of AP content can be released soon.
There are two excellent resources available that address the legal issues around reuse of copyrighted content in blogs and podcasts. If you’re not familiar with these issues, check these resources out:
Update: More at MediaShift