Monday, June 16, 2008

The Great Blogger/AP Panic

Some bloggers appear to be panicking about the news that the Associated Press will develop a policy for blogger usage:
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. . . .
Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.
Don't freak out, bloggers. Look, I just used 86 words from a New York Times story. Am I worried that their lawyers are going to swoop down on me? Not in the least.

If and when you violate someone's copyright, it is the copyright holder's obligation to inform you of the violation. They're not going to file suit without notice.

Furthermore, quoting and linking a news story is kind of like quoting and linking a fellow blogger. Don't cut the guts out of it -- that is, don't quote it so extensively that there's no reason for the reader to click through the link and read more.

Speaking of clicking through the link, in the New York Times story, the AP acknowledges it goofed by freaking out over such small excerpts:
On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.
In the Internet age, the AP (like everyone else) is all about the hits. Having spent more than a year working as unofficial blog liaison at The Washington Times, I know that news organizations want their stories to be linked and discussed by bloggers -- it drives traffic. (The Politico has been very savvy about this.) But you can't be reaping all that blog buzz is people are afraid to quote two sentences from your story.

So keep linking and quoting, and don't sweat it. Until you get that letter telling you to cease and desist, you're in the clear.

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