Tuesday, June 17, 2008

But willl bloggers care?

... The Associated Press to Set Guidelines for Using Its Articles in Blogs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the meantime, take a look at this: Irony Alert: AP Attacks Blogs for Quoting Their Stories, Then Quotes Even More Extensively from Blogs. (Via Instapundit.)


  1. Hi Frank,

    The fair use laws are designed to protect people like us from opportunists as AP appears to have become. Obviously an AP story in this situation is extremely biased in order to paint themselves with halos.

    If AP is getting more powerful as newspapers cut staff, then this move on their part smacks of trying to define new profit areas. No one minds the part of them wanting to get duly paid, but it is not up to them to decide what may or may not be quoted and by whom. Our fair use laws do that work, and AP staff has yet to write a law.

    What they can become are bullies, instituting strong-arm tactics in to overrule fair use. If they go around threatening bloggers, some will fold and pay when they don't have to, just to save time or from the fear of not being able to afford due victory via due process.

    It sounds like AP has not altogether dropped the idea, just delayed it. They surely have been consulting with legal eagles, hiring lawyers to dazzle us all including the court system with arguments, as they try to establish uncharted profit points for themselves.


  2. I couldn't care less if AP folds, actually. Their reporting has become dreadful.

  3. Anonymous11:52 PM

    It does not matter whether bloggers care, only that they abide by fair use and other legal concepts, which they do not. As the article reasonably points out, blogers seem to have no respect for or understanding of copyright, fair use, or plagiarism. By wildly assuming that they can use whatever they damn well please without any concern for the original writer, publisher, or copyright holder, they create anarchy. You may applaud that as a delicious poke in the eye to your despised Main Stream Media, but you might not if you were the publisher, writer, or copyright holder who depended upon your writings/publications to put bread on the table.

  4. Anonymous11:57 PM

    I've performed an estimate. If the AP were to charge the same rates for its quotes, paying them for the words according to its schedule, it would be forced to pay out $12K/day.

  5. Anonymous,

    It may be bad wording, but the article opens with this paragraph:

    The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

    AP cannot define standards. AP cannot determine when you or I have infringed on their copyright. This is done by law, not by a corporate board meeting that results in the issue of a statement.

    Next sentence:

    The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances.

    That they believe they can speak to anyone this way, is a serious attitude problem on their part. The copyright laws are not their guidelines to impose. They are my guidelines that protect me from organizations with their attitude.

    Furthermore, the fair use laws do not mention anything about "small bits of their work." The fair use guidelines have more to do with whether a work is being cited for the facts it contains, which can be cited more liberally, or for its creativity. Thus, the AP stance is to consider themselves creative writers instead of technical writers, as here:

    Mr. Kennedy argued, however, that The Associated Press believes that in some cases, the essence of an article can be encapsulated in very few words.

    “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,” he said.

    But he also said that the association hopes that it will not have to test this theory in court.

    If the AP can smooth talk that through the courts, they will essentially change the intent of what fair use is about. Imagine, not being able to quote a headline without paying money, the grounds of which being that it is creative writing. An AP headline is like one of the unpublished Jack Kerouac haiku poems? The AP people need to get over themselves.


  6. That says David, because I was signed into the IBPC e-mail. It's really me, though.

  7. Anonymous1:43 AM

    Imagine, not being able to cut and paste a cartoonist's work into your blog without paying a fee. Imagine, not being able to cut and paste a columnist's column into your blog without paying a fee. Imagine, not being able to cut and paste huge chunks of a magazine article without paying a fee. Bloggers do this and more with scandalous impunity. That bloggers think they can do this is, to borrow a quote (without permission), "a serious attitude problem on their part" and, to freely borrow another quote, they "need to get over themselves." Imagine not having the AP and other news organizations to react against; without them the majority of blogs would be all but void of content. The AP and other news services face no fear of having to pay for the quotes they quote, whether at $12K a day or whatever figure; politicians and other attention-grabbers are only too happy to get into the news. That is, to repeat, the news, whence they will make their way to blogs. For no fee.

  8. Hi Anonymous,

    You are putting all bloggers into a category of those who would cut and paste an entire article. I would not do that. Would you?

    That some bloggers do does not make it okay for AP to try to over-retrict use of whatever they write, and thus overcharge. It looks for all the world like they are trying to convict all bloggers of unfair use of their work, and thus disqualify us from arguing their gross misinterpretation of the fair use laws. And you are playing into their hands. Either that or you are anonyumous because you have a stake in AP's gambit.

    AP may not set fair use guidelines. The fact that they are publicly stating their intentions along these lines, means they are overstepping their bounds.

    Their motivation appears to be new profit points that they have no rights to. They look like they would like to pick our pockets.

    This is not to say that they have no rights to profits, but they sure as hell cannot, by some made-up AP guidelines, prevent any of us from quoting entire headlines for instance. And we certainly have a right to quote more than "small bits if their work".


  9. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Anonymouse: You fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of this medium, which is to provide context to a pre-existing medium. The AP's draconian schedule, which is in complete defiance of fair use standards and represents an egregious circumstance of the AP taking the law into its own hands, makes it sound as if taking a few words from an article and linking to it with a comment represents total theft. This is, in most cases, not the case. It is especially foolish to prohibit contextual linking because this runs counter to universal standards on quoting. And many of us in the blogosphere are attempting to provide context for the information is out there. Thus, reference of more than four words is necessary.

    Further, many AP sources offer a "Print article" option. If the AP does not want its content to be disseminated, then why is it sending mixed messages? A link from a blog is no different from a person sending an email containing the article to another or someone clipping it out from a newspaper, save for the idea that "blogging it" is public and, as many in these comments have declared, the linking and commentary is contextual, not intended to profit commercially, and founded more on curiosity rather than hubris.

  10. Anonymous3:01 AM

    There is little that I do not understand about media, but if I "fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of the [blogging] medium," I have plenty of company. The great majority of media-consumers do not understand it, either, and the fault is not theirs, but that of blogs and bloggers. A mass or general-use medium whose purpose "needs to be understood" is in trouble from the get-go. In the bad old days it was, "Here's a nickel (dime, quarter, half-dollar), just tell me the news and spare me your tales of agony about how hard it was to get it to me." Now we are asked to please understand "the purpose of the medium." La-di-da, how precious. Say what you will about the pretended evil of Old Line Media (aka MSM), they at least are understandable and -- especially in this time of rapidly changing and morphing media -- make efforts to make themselves into what the consumer wants. Bloggers, on the other hand, take the chip-on-the-shoulder attitude that the consumer is supposed to come to them, rather than the other way around. Good thing you don't charge for it, because it's a poor marketing strategy and no way to make a living.

  11. Anonymous8:32 PM

    So let me get this straight, you anonymous pipsqueak. You're content to bandy about your hubris, without having the balls or the decency to provide your name, stating that there is little that you do not understand about media. You proudly proclaim the newspaper a wonderful model that "understands what the consumer wants." Never mind that newspaper subscriptions are declining precisely BECAUSE they aren't giving the "consumers" what they want. Which seems to run counter to the grand marketing strategy you're touting here of the consumer coming to newspapers. It sounds like you're more confused than anyone here.

    Look, buddy, if newspapers really understand what readers (I prefer this term over the corporate term "consumers" -- perhaps this is another reason readers are running away), they wouldn't be getting their knickers in a bunch about upstart bloggers. Clearly, they are seeing a dent in their circulation because they are NOT giving readers what they want. The readers, in turn, are coming to blogs. And now the newspapers even bombard blogs with emails, begging them to link to them. (I get three or four emails like this a day.)

    One must aver that bloggers are, by way of writing in an intelligent and informed way about topics, doing something that the newspapers aren't. And the bloggers are doing this while sticking to their own voices.

    Instead of trying to understand this and adapt, the Associated Press has, in a scheme that arrogantly and foolishly fails to account for the legal precedent of fair use, attempted to quash their "competition." The AP has even stooped to the illusion of "negotiations" with a mythical organization called the Media Bloggers Association.

    See here for the MBA ruse:


    One is tempted to offer numerous historical comparisons of fascist governments trying to stub out alternative voices. But let us consider that the AP, unable to reach these audiences, is now resorting to dirty and illegal tactics. If you ask me, this is a disastrous marketing strategy, a disastrous self-sabotage on the AP's credibility, and a sign of increasing desperation. All because stubborn, arrogant, and uninformed people like you keep your heads in the sand about inevitability instead of working with us.

  12. Anonymous1:31 AM

    Touchy, touchy! But not surprising; quite typical of bloggers. Someone sets them straight and they go all apoplectic. Stubborn I certainly am, arrogant I may be, but uninformed? Not a chance. Having worked in and written about Old Line Media (which does not mean just newspapers) for decades, I am confident I know and understand more about them than you do the back of the hand you so viciously give me. Still, I understand; venom feels better than actual fact-based arguments, doesn't it? Especially when you haven't any. The decline of newspapers, for instance, has almost nothing to do with blogs. What? You think blogs came on the scene and newspapers went all, "Oh, God, we're done for. And no wonder -- blogs are so much better. We give up." Imagine that: For two centuries and more all the newspapers in this country failed to write in "intelligent and informed way about topics," as bloggers are now doing. One wonders that they lasted two decades, much less two centuries. The rise of television (another Old Line Medium, now in trouble itself) is one reason for decline, of course. Congested traffic, believe it or not, is another. Way back in the late 1960s afternoon newspapers (which were once far more dominant than morning) began to have trouble getting the product out. And of course the demand on time and attention from all sorts of electronic gimcrackery has had a devastating blow. The decline -- which has come about also in magazines, another medium you prefer to sideline so as to vent your spleen on newspapers -- has many more causes, but very little of it has to do with not meeting the consumer's -- excuse me, the READER's -- needs and wants. While I could go on for hours, it would be wasted on a callow intellect that prefers to deal in screed and invective and conspiracy theory (fascists? dear me!) rather than the facts about the rise and fall of Old Line Media. Come back in a few years when you've gone to a reputable school of journalism and learned to write in a cogent manner. Perhaps they'll also teach you not to stomp your little foot in print. (Oooh, print; I said a BAAAAD word.) Then it will be worth my while.

  13. Hi Anonymous,

    You said, "Touchy, touchy! But not surprising; quite typical of bloggers. Someone sets them straight and they go all apoplectic."

    So then, bloggers are all the same this way. We all have apoplexy. This touchiness must differentiate us from the typical non-blogger.

    Jim Kennedy at the AP is thinking the same way: Round Two: AP To Meet with Media Bloggers Association. He's thinking that if he meets with one blogger, a Robert Cox, he's getting representative input from all of us. Hopefully Cox doesn;t get so upset he ruptures a blood vessel or anything at the meeting.

    If this happens, though, I'll meet with him, and help him understand the fair use laws better. Oh . . . or is he going to help me understand the fair use laws better. Oh, I'm starting to get upset . . . Oh no!


  14. Anonymous11:28 AM

    It's always amusing to see an ignorant and anonymous coward with an inflated sense of self-importance declare just how well he's aware of the facts behind the demise of newspapers, without actually citing anything specific. I've raised arguments, you putz. Like a good trollish pedant (funny how a print booster uses commonplace Internet tactics), you choose not to reply to them. (And, yes, I agree with you that distribution is part of the problem. But producing a newspaper that people want to read is undoubtedly another. This is an issue that goes back to the '90's, when the great hue and cry against the Internet caused staffers at newspapers and magazines to ask how they could appeal to this drifting readership.) Perhaps because you don't actually HAVE an argument, much less a name.

  15. Anonymous8:22 PM

    You are so eager to make reality fit theory, so determined to set up a
    straw man – newspapers are bad, that’s why they’ve declined – that you are
    unable to think clearly about what has happened to ALL of the Old Line Media.
    Having little knowledge – a dangerous thing, as the proverb has it – also does
    not serve you well. Nor does resorting to sulky, childish name-calling, which
    only demonstrates the emptiness of your responses. I, for my part, do not think
    of YOU as a putz, though in fact you may be one, I do not know. As numerous
    published studies of the mass media have shown, newspapers (and radio) began to
    decline long before the Internet and blogs were ever thought of. They declined
    not because of what they are or were, but because of the outside forces arrayed
    against them. Indeed, aside from the actual news being reported and cultural
    and societal changes, the content and capabilities of newspapers have not
    substantially altered in 75 years, or perhaps longer. But take the example of
    radio. For about 30-plus years it was king, along with newspapers. (The rise of
    radio did not put much of a dent in newspaper circulation or popularity, for
    reasons too complex to go into here.) When television came along, network radio
    suffered mightily. Still, it did not die, but rather changed drastically, from
    a news-drama-comedy medium to something like what we have today. (And today’s
    broadcast radio, I have read, is also sinking rapidly now, beset by the same
    forces that afflict TV and newspapers.) Big-time network radio did not die
    because it failed to give listeners what they wanted; it died because it could
    NOT give listeners what they wanted, which was television, the nascent medium.
    Television, too -- both network, independent, and cable -- are suffering, beset
    by the outside forces I have mentioned – people spending their time on DVDs,
    video games, and surfing the Net, among other things. Newspapers have met
    somewhat the same fate. To reiterate for those with the attention span of a
    gnat and the intellect of a newt: Newspapers have been failing for, just to name
    a few problems: (1) distribution difficulties; (2) the dominance of television;
    (3) the decline in factory work, which means that Pa did not come home early in
    the afternoon and read the afternoon paper (the dominant edition for most of US
    newspaper history); (4) the growth in two-wage-earner families, so that everyone
    had less time to devote to a newspaper; (5) the competition from
    ever-increasing types of electronic entertainment. There are numerous other
    problems that could be cited, but even those five are too many to have wasted on
    someone determined not to understand. Newspapers, weakened as they are, are on
    the whole about as good as they have been for decades, aside from poorer
    spelling and grammar, which is a failing not just in newspapers but across the
    board (and particularly in blogs, I cannot fail to add). They are dying not
    because they are bad, but because they cannot compete with the raucous demands
    of other distractions. When they are entirely gone, we will be the poorer for
    it. I hope something equally useful takes their place, but of one thing I am
    sure: It is not and will not be bloggers. Were I to admit you are right that
    newspapers are bad -- which of course I never would do, knowing too well what
    the reality is – I could never grant that people will be turning en masse to get
    the latest news from Baghdad, Britain, or Beijing from guys sitting in their
    undershorts in their basements or spare bedrooms. Newspapers gave us the news,
    radio did, television did (in decreasing degrees of competence), but Fred’s
    Pretty Good Blog never will.

  16. Trace Anonymous' IP address. I'll bet it leads to a newspaper, if not AP itself! Such cluelessness about media law and practices could only come from a newspaper person!