Friday, June 20, 2008

AP vs Blogs: Should we bloggers be afraid?

The Associated Press (AP) has been in the limelight recently for all the wrong reasons when it initially warned bloggers not to use its content without permission but then later retreated by saying that it will rethink its policies towards bloggers. From The New York Times:
“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,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy said the company was going to meet with representatives of the Media Bloggers Association, a trade group, and others. He said he hopes that these discussions can all occur this week so that guidelines can be released soon.

Still, Mr. Kennedy said that the organization has not withdrawn its request that Drudge Retort remove the seven items. And he said that he still believes that it is more appropriate for blogs to use short summaries of A.P. articles rather than direct quotations, even short ones.

“Cutting and pasting a lot of content into a blog is not what we want to see,” he said. “It is more consistent with the spirit of the Internet to link to content so people can read the whole thing in context.”
Robert Cox from the Media Blogger Association says that the entire story has been blown out of proportion and that the AP is not out on a blogger witch hunt. From MBA:
So, Drudge Retort got on AP's radar due to the posting of entire articles with exact headlines which all parties agreed constituted copyright violations two months BEFORE the most recent spate of DMCA Take Down Notices. Technically, Drudge Retort got onto AP's radar because those posts were flagged by software used by AP called Attributor. This is a data mining spider similar to the bots and web indexers used by search engines; content companies can use it to track the use of their content on the web. It is very important that people understand this because it makes clear that the AP is not on some wild rampage through the blogosphere, lawyering up to to go after every blogger who quotes an AP story in any way. Yet that is how this story has been portrayed including by a lot of people who should know better but are having too much fun bashing AP.
While I agree that a company like AP has the right to decide for itself how it wants others to use its content, I do hope that it will come up with good, clear and FAIR guidelines so that bloggers know they won't be infringing AP's copyrights when they quote its stories.

Bloggers too have to do their part. "Fair use" is great but I do see some bloggers quoting entire news stories on their posts and some not even linking back to the original source. No wonder news organizations like AP are mad.

It's still too early to say how this will have an effect on how the blogosphere reports news. We just have to wait and see when AP releases its guidelines for bloggers and I foresee other news organizations doing the same too in the future.

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