The Associated Press plays role of Metallica in Napster-esque war with bloggers

The Associated Press plays role of Metallica in Napster-esque war with bloggers

Summary: The Associated Press first heard blogger outcry when it served take-down notices to the Drudge Retort. Now the press service is talking about attaching licensing fees to all of its content.

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The Associated Press created a feeding frenzy when it first filed seven Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) take-down notices against the Drudge Retort, claiming that the blog aggregator violated fair use copyright guidelines when repurposing The A.P.'s content. As ZDNet's Denise Howell pointed out on Monday, The A.P.'s attempt to set more clear re-use standards for bloggers is an uphill battle, as "the legal standard is unclear, and subject to interpretation on a case by case basis."

It appeared at first that The A.P. was heeding community outcry when Saul Hansell of the New York Times reported that Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P, claimed the goliath news service was going to reconsider its policies:

“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.

The situation, however, has now morphed from a slap on the wrist and into a dollars and cents game. Yesterday BetaNews reported that The A.P. is now instead assessing a licensing fee for republished content, which looks a little something like this:

  • 5-25 words: $12.50
  • 26-50 words: $17.50
  • 51-100 words: $25.00
  • 101-250 words: $50.00
  • 251 words and up: $100.00

Tim Conneally makes some fair points in his coverage of the new fees, calling out all of the potentially convoluted situations in which both The A.P. and the bloggers could find themselves considering fuzziness around the U.S. Copyright Act and the fact that bloggers could potential quote a subscribing newspaper vs. The A.P. itself. Conneally also poses the question of whether simple commonly used introductory phrases or attributions would be considered in the word count for the fines.

Concerns for this usage restriction go far beyond bloggers alone at this point. What happens to companies who receive news coverage via The A.P. and want post it on corporate sites, social media newsrooms or corporate blogs? Will they be assessed a fee, too? Even further, will The A.P. soon start charging teachers and students who participate in news evaluation projects in the classroom? "I'm sorry Tommy, you'll get an 'F' unless you pay $12.50 out of your allowance to The A.P." Or maybe little Tommy would be protected as long as he didn't publish his analysis on his Web site.

Another quote from Hansell's NYT article on the matter:

“We are not trying to sue bloggers,” Mr. Kennedy said. “That would be the rough equivalent of suing grandma and the kids for stealing music. That is not what we are trying to do.”

Try or not, I fear that may be the direction in which The A.P. is moving. Perhaps I am taking this a bit too far (especially in exploiting little Tommy) but this is the type of situation that can quickly escalate out of control and shake an industry. While The A.P. certainly is not metal band material, nor to Kennedy's point has it yet engaged in any law suits against bloggers, the situation reeks of the same type of censorship concerns debated during the Metallica vs. Napster fan law suit several years back. While Metallica (and the other musical acts behind the suit) likely never intended to create the legal monster that it did, the music industry was never the same. Music sharing permanently moved to a paid model. And, well, Metallica lost a lot of fans.

The A.P. will meet tomorrow with the Media Bloggers Association to discuss, and with hope, hammer out a more reasonable workaround for bloggers who want to use The A.P.'s content. Some bloggers already claim to be done with The A.P., many going as far to participate in an organized a boycott of the press service's articles, touting a petition and encouraging others to use Reuters and smaller news organizations who have not seemingly taken an offensive stance against the blogosphere.

View related articles on TechMeme.

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10 comments
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  • Hey, Jennifer

    good and HOT blog. Exactly what we needed :)
    markbn
    • Thank you!

      Glad to be here. :)
      Jennifer Leggio
  • Good Job, Jen...

    As a published author and a blooger of sorts myself, I am damned happy to be a part of the Internet and what it has done both professionally and personally for me.
    You are exactly right, it is a plow for the "fourth" branch of the United States government to control the "news and information" and keep the American public in the dark. It also inpedes on them 1st Admendment, or if I dare say, if the antic of the so called press continues, it certainly will attack our right to free speech.

    On the other hand, I do believe in copyright protection and take my work for instance, I wouldn't want someone to get a hold of my ebook versions that the publisher also sells and re-sell it under their own name as if they were the author and I would get nothing out of it.

    If they, those that get my ebook versions do not alter the content in any way shape or form, wow, and give it through their freinds and associates or finds the content on a torrent provider, well, I look at it as free advertisment.

    Now as far as Metallica is concerned, the shot themselves in their own foot and I for one have been lost to them. I purchase all my music in the traditional CD format through legal means and then rip it in lossless format to all my electronical music devices I own. In some views I may be breaking some sort of imaginary law to them. I believe in "fair use" unfortunately, we are not seeing "fair use" by the industry through their stupid DRM schemes.
    Kromaethius
  • Haha.. metallica now synonymous with eeevil :)

    It's something of a milestone, now that metallica is synonymous with evil.. scratch that, it should be "pond scum". As for AP, does anyone know if they're going broke?
    kraterz
    • This raises yet another question...

      Evil music, yeah, I'm all for it. Metallica crying, they lost me -- Metallica, pond scum -- Sure, why not?

      As some of us may know, technology is not for the complacent. Technology in general is always on the move.

      We've seen the Pony Express being put out with the Telegram, and then Telephone, and now email. We see technology in just with personal communication ten-fold since I was a child. In less than a person can say, "Bob's your uncle..." My brother in Scotland receives an email from me.

      The Postal Service has certainly felt the pinch and it is only obvious that the traditional media, newspapers, and magazines must see the end of their traditional means of doing business. I for one get all my news, and information directly from the news services and all my former magazines are now online and I subscribe for the online version. No mess, nothing to throw away and my wife doesn't need to see the men's magazines hanging around, (maxum and the like...)

      I don't watch the news on television, I do not want to be entertained but informed, and there is a huge difference!!!

      Thanks for brining up your point.
      Kromaethius
  • RE: The Associated Press plays role of Metallica in Napster-esque war with

    The simplest solution would be for bloggers or other users of 3rd-party material to link their readers/viewers/listeners to the originating web site.
    This is a double-edged sword. It would generate hits for AP and their like, but it also might generate so much traffic that it would bog down their servers. Perhaps mirror sites would be better. This way AP gets users to view their advertising and possibly other content and bloggers, etc. get the story out that they want to pay attention to. IMHO.
    mosherk
    • The associated full court press

      I can still see them creating new areas of interest to pad their pocketbooks. Sure, it's about the money, but it's also about control.

      Let's say AP publishes something incorrect, or not in depth enough. You know there is missing information that would correct said publication. You quote the line where they're incorrect and place the correct info on your blog. Now you owe them for the 15 words you just quoted in your article.

      It's simply a way to keep most everybody from pointing out where they might happen to be wrong or you disagree with them or you want to make fun of them.

      I'd say most bloggers always link back to the original article, at least all the ones I've seen, so what's their problem?

      Bunch of crybabies....
      rickroberts_mcse@...
  • The Associated Press plays monopoly THUG!

    I'm not surprised that this has happened. With UPI going defunct AP more or less has a monopoly in the news wire business in the US. Add to that the far-leftist slant of AP and we have a really ugly situation. The natural conduct of a monopoly is to exploit its position for maximum gain.

    Using Reuters as a news source would be even worse - Reuters now days has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Al-Queida.

    Just another example of why the DMCA needs to be REPEALED and every CongressScum that voted for it should be defeated, then taken out and flogged.
    bowenw@...
  • Bloggers revenge

    Some bloggers have already said they will stop linking to AP articles and limiting their quotes, Ace of Spades, for example. Michele Malkin points out that turnabout is fair play and AP would owe HER $130,000 under that pricing scheme.
    smoyer@...
  • "Media Bloggers Association"? Ha!

    Just an FYI for folks. The so-called "Media Bloggers Association" is pretty much one guy, a right-wing nut who seems to think of himself in the plural since there really isn't anyone else who's a part of the MBA. He represents NO ONE.

    For a very complete take down of this whole thing, go to the Making Light blog.
    david.engelstad@...