Rogers Cadenhead has long run a site called the Drudge Retort at www.drudge.com. Today he posted the news that the site has been targeted by the Associated Press with DMCA takedown orders. AP is complaining about a bunch of posts on Drudge Retort that contain brief excerpts of longer AP stories and links to those stories on other sites.
According to the AP, this is copyright infringement. (Here’s the text of the complaint.)
If the AP is right, then something like 99.9% of the world’s millions of bloggers are engaged in copyright infringement, simply by excerpting the articles bloggers link to.
Something’s wrong with this picture!
Fair use has always been a sticky area of the law because there are no clear boundaries to what’s acceptable; instead there is a set of principles that get weighed to determine whether the reuse of copyrighted material is considered to fall under fair use.
One thing that I always assumed was clear fair use, though, was short excerpts of longer articles, properly credited and linked to, for the purpose of commentary. This meets several of the fair use criteria (amount used, transformation of the work, effect of use on work’s market value) head on.
Of course I Am Not a Lawyer, but I dealt with this sort of thing for years at Salon. (We took considerable umbrage at the way users at certain sites reposted entire Salon articles which they wanted to read and critique. Because they disagreed with us politically, they wanted to deny us the ad revenue we’d get if they read the articles on our site. This was not fair use. But they could have excerpted and linked easily enough!)
It looks to me like Cadenhead is being targeted for some other reason, with the infringement complaint as some sort of smokescreen. Either that, or the AP has decided it wants to blow up the blogosphere. Since bloggers are some of the most avid consumers of news, this sue-your-customers strategy is likely to be about as effective as the RIAA’s was.
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