AP responds on blog excerpting

I just received email that I assume is genuine with this statement from the AP:

AP wants to fill in some facts and perspective on its recent actions with the Drudge Retort, and also reassure those in the blogosphere about AP’s view of these situations. Yes, indeed, we are trying to protect our intellectual property online, as most news and content creators are around the world. But our interests in that regard extend only to instances that go beyond brief references and direct links to our coverage.

The Associated Press encourages the engagement of bloggers — large and small — in the news conversation of the day. Some of the largest blogs are licensed to display AP stories in full on a regular basis. We genuinely value and encourage referring links to our coverage, and even offer RSS feeds from www.ap.org, as do many of our licensed customers.

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.

So, let’s be clear: Bloggers are an indispensable part of the new ecosystem, but Jeff Jarvis’ call for widespread reproduction of wholesale stories is out of synch with the environment he himself helped develop. There are many ways to inspire conversation about the news without misappropriating the content of original creators, whether they are the AP or fellow bloggers.

Jim Kennedy
VP and Director of Strategy for AP

Let’s unpack this just a bit: AP is saying it’s OK to link, but that they “get concerned” over use that is “more reproduction than reference or when others are encouraged to cut and paste.”

But what I saw on Drudge Retort was brief excerpts of much longer stories. That’s the issue here. (Jeff Jarvis’s call for protest reposts is really a side issue — it gives AP a cleaner-cut case to object to than the main dispute.)

Brief excerpts should be considered fair use. I imagine AP wants to draw a line in the sand and discourage excerpting so that it doesn’t have to confront the tough problem of a “slippery slope” of ever-lengthening excerpts that become, de facto, full-text republication.

But unfortunately fair use law doesn’t draw such a line. It doesn’t say, “75 words is OK, 100 words isn’t.” And the AP will set a terrible precedent for the Web if it manages to intimidate people from doing anything but linking, and effectively outlaws the reasonable use of brief excerpts.

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Comments

  1. Brief Excerpts ‘are’ Fair Use. Says So at the Copyright Office. As you mentioned, the only quibble is the percentage of the excerpt.

    The ‘misappropriation of ‘hot news” crap contained in the posting on Rodgers site, is a novel legal theory that was used in a case between two competing news services in 1918, which was more properly a plagiarism and theft case than an infringement or Fair Use Violation.

    It looks like the AP wants to be the New RIAA. Probably because the same thing is happening to them that is happening to the record industry.

  2. Jamie

    I guess the first question that comes to mind is, shouldn’t they be going after Digg? Their stated objection seems to apply to Digg.

    “We get concerned, however, when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste”.

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