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More Idiocy From The Associated Press

by @ 10:23 am on June 18, 2008. Filed under Blogging, Media

As if it’s recent efforts to define what constitutes “fair use” weren’t bad enough, the Associated Press now says that it intends to charge bloggers for quoting even small portions of AP articles:

The AP’s disharmony with bloggers may have only just begun, as the alternative it’s now offering to being served with takedown notices involves paying an up-front sum for excerpting online articles — as few as five words.

A meeting between the Associated Press’ Vice President for Strategic Planning Jim Kennedy and Robert Cox, who heads the Media Bloggers Association, is now planned for Thursday of this week. The subject at hand is the AP’s attempt to find a new way of sharing AP content, which now involves a fee per excerpt based on its word length.

The AP’s disharmony with bloggers may have only just begun, as the alternative it’s now offering to being served with takedown notices involves paying an up-front sum for excerpting online articles — as few as five words.

A meeting between the Associated Press’ Vice President for Strategic Planning Jim Kennedy and Robert Cox, who heads the Media Bloggers Association, is now planned for Thursday of this week. The subject at hand is the AP’s attempt to find a new way of sharing AP content, which now involves a fee per excerpt based on its word length.

The pricing scale for excerpting AP content begins at $12.50 for 5-25 words and goes as high as $100 for 251 words and up. Nonprofit organizations and educational institutions enjoy a discounted rate

As you can expect, this latest announcement has caused yet another upropr in the blogosphere.

Justin Gardner, for example, has joined the crowd of those who will not link to another Associated Press article if the present policy continues:

First, it’s a complete perversion of the fair use laws to suggest that quoting more than 4 words violates copyright, and AP should know better.

Second, bloggers help AP’s content by quoting it, citing it, linking to it and consequently helping it rise further up in search results. Because what this ultimately does is sends more traffic to their stories…which they can then make more ad dollars off of.

Third, the sooner the AP realizes this, they better. Consider my decision as a way of helping the AP get with reality sooner rather than later. And if the entire blogosphere follows suit, there’s absolutely no way they can sue us all.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin and Patterico both decided to have a little fun with the AP, by claiming that they are owed money for blog posts that the AP reproduced nearly verbatim. Says Patterico:

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.

So am I going to be an ass and threaten to charge them, or sue them, or demand that they remove the quotes? Of course not. They benefited from my content and I benefited from their link.

Just like when the Drudge Retort quoted them.

And I’m going to go on quoting AP stories, within fair use guidelines.

And if they start threatening me, I’ll have to remind them that they did the same to me.

UPDATE: Maybe I should reconsider. Michelle Malkin says the AP owes me $188,750. (OK, so Marcy Tiffany actually wrote all the words that were quoted, so maybe they owe her. But she was my exclusive source!!) And Glenn Reynolds says: “Yes, but they’re news professionals, so they shouldn’t have to pay for content. That’s for everybody else. . . .”

And McQ is establishing his own rate, $ 1,000 a word for the A.P., free for everyone else.

On a more serious side though, one blogger at The Moderate Voice points out that the AP is in danger of making the same mistake that the New York Times did with Times Select:

Times Direct failed. I dont know all the reasons why. But a huge reason among the writers in my world was because the costly news at NYT could be gotten elsewhere for free. NYT Select was finally scrapped, and a couple other structures tried. But time had passed. Many writers and bloggers had made their allegiances elsewhere. Some surely came back to read the NYT. I did. But I know too that many did not.

Just watching from the dirt hill outside the big media castles, it appears that the problem for MSM, whether publishers, newspapers, news feeds, etc, has been turning away from the mindset of being a gatekeeper in a purposely walled community that derives a certain sense of status and revenues from squatting over all aspects of the work products… to instead, learning to think like a river…thinking of how to be significant portals, tributaries, tidal pools, currents, flowly freely, rather than building dams.

It seems to me that any news media that wants to charge high fees to read or to quote from them, is putting a dam on a great river that now depends on far more than the dam-builders alone… To dam the river is, I think, to big media’s own detriment. In some cases it’s unplanned suicide. There are many many news sources we writers can choose to quote from, those who are glad to be linked to, and who follow certain of our work as we follow theirs. As Michelle Malkin put it yesterday, AP quotes from her work. Who owes who?

Rather than looking at the media-blogger relationship as a synergistic one, the AP, just as the Time did when it tried to charge fees to access it’s so-called premium content (although why anyone would pay extra just for the privilege of reading Maureen Dowd I never quite understood), is still stuck in the old media box and seems to view the blogosphere as the enemy, instead of a potential partner.

In the end, they’ll either have to make peace or suffer the same fate that the Times with it’s failed attempt to turn online news delivery into a profit center.

H/T: James Joyner

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One Response to “More Idiocy From The Associated Press”

  1. snapped shot says:

    Holy Cow: AP Caught Stealing from Cookie Jar, Again?…

    Blogger Patterico has noticed that the Associated Press lifted 157 words from his blog for one of its recent stories, without compensating him for the exclusive information he provided. This is comical, considering how the Associated Press is in the m…

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