So, a short time ago, the Associated Press decided that bloggers who quote a little too freely from AP’s wire should be ponying up:

Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

They did retreat from this somewhat extreme position, however, and announced that they were looking for clear guidelines. Regardless, the AP was clear that it believed that:

As content creators, we firmly believe that everything we create, from video footage all the way down to a structured headline, is creative content that has value

(Hat tip to the New York Times, with which I frequently disagree but which has never tried to sue me for quoting their articles!)

Now (and you could probably see this one coming) it seems that the AP doth protest too much:

In a news item about the e-mail from Judge Kozinski’s wife that I posted on this site, an AP article lifted numerous passages.

I counted 154 words quoted from my post. That’s almost twice the number of words contained in the most extensive quotation in the Drudge Retort.

And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s this:

Ironically, in January 2007, the AP syndicated reports written by a group of Media Bloggers Association member bloggers covering the Scooter Libby trial. The AP did not compensate the bloggers, though it benefited from their work.

Now, to be fair, in that last case it looks like it was win-win.

But isn’t that really the point? With fair use, it’s always win-win, especially on the Internet, where links back to the original material are pretty much par for the course. So basically, the AP gets free advertising and traffic for their site, and bloggers get a bit of free news.

You’d think a news gathering organization would be all for generating more buzz…but, of course, there’s this:

The central point of this post – that the AP’s middleman rewrite service business is becoming obsolete – stands.

Good point, Bill, good point. That’s what I think is really going on here: just like the music industry, the news media realizes that the gravy train is coming to the last station. Inevitably, markets destroy all middlemen, inevitably those middlemen resist and lash out, and inevitably they lose—and the rest of us win. That’s how I see it, any way. But what about you?

So…a show of hands from those who think that the AP was actually justified in its little blizzard of cease-and-desist letters? Those opposed? Crazy conspiracy buffs with a bizarre explanation of how everyone involved is really on the same side?

UPDATE: Really, this happens so often I sometimes forget, but I shouldn’t: Hat tip to Instapundit for pointing me towards this story.

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