Monday, June 16, 2008

AP: Accusatory and Patronizing

As an editor and publisher, I spent part of my working life dealing with copyright infringement and fair use, so it's fascinating to find the Associated Press today in a fumbling effort to limit use of its content by bloggers.

To start, no one's work should be redistributed at random, but that's hardly what bloggers do in reproducing, almost always with attribution, portions of the news that AP publishes and commenting on it, almost always with links to the source of the material.

In the case chosen to set an example, the AP leaned on the satirical Drudge Retort over seven items containing quotations ranging from 39 to 79 words, hardly a wholesale lifting, leading to the suspicion that the news syndicate was more upset by the appropriator's tone than the "theft."

That's less a defense of copyrighted material than the act of a would-be censor.

“We are not trying to sue bloggers,” its "strategy director" says. “That would be the rough equivalent of suing grandma and the kids for stealing music. That is not what we are trying to do.”

That's adding insult to insult. Bloggers may want avoid using AP stuff--there are so many other news sources from which to steal our pathetic little music.


Liza said...

When I read that about AP, I had the same reaction. The Associated Press is not exactly a premier news source these days. Their coverage of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the most important news story of the 21st century so far, is worse than pathetic.

It's a good thing that there are better news sources than AP out there.

Will Attend said...

Hey Gramps,
Just wanted to say that I am a big fan of your blog - and, as a current member of the American Society of Magazine Editors, I am thrilled to see that a magazine editor is capable of not only equanimity, but also magnanimity. With the pressures on our industry these days, I don't think that many people who work in this industry really see themselves as having a leadership role in society, as people whose job it is to not only entertain and inform, but do so from a position of moral responsibility.
Hope one day you drop me a line. And if you are ever in NYC, I'd love to take you out for lunch or a drink.
Will Dana
Managing Editor
Rolling Stone.