Saul Hansell reports today that the Associated Press "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."
The problem with "clear standards" is that as Tim Wu (quoted in the article) correctly points out, the legal standard is unclear, and subject to interpretation on a case by case basis. There are instances when reproducing the entire work (or large portions thereof — "Fisking" we used to call it, seems like eons ago) with sufficient commentary is fair use. The A.P.'s vague statement that it wants to police what appears to be reproduction for reproduction's sake as opposed to commentary, thus is a fair representation of what it's entitled to do by law; anything more specific might not hold up.
Given this, it'll be interesting to see what the A.P. cobbles together with the Media Bloggers Association, which of course does not act for and can't bind the whole blogosphere and Web. If, as the statements to Hansell suggest, it's as restrictive as purporting to make brief direct quotations against A.P. policy, the A.P. will either have to backtrack or try to get judicial buy-in on a policy that in all likelihood would be deemed overbroad.
Related: Mike Arrington, Here’s Our New Policy On A.P. stories: They’re Banned, and all stories and posts linked from there; Techmeme re same.