Earth To Aspiring Pundits: There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch In The Blogosphere . . .


. . . Which makes calls for a boycott against The Associated Press because of its warning that using wire service content in the form of excerpts and links without payment is in violation of copyright law is misguided — or to put it in terms that some bloggers would understand, it’s plain stoopid.

I seem to be in the minority on this point of view, and there are some heavyweights like Jeff Jarvis in the majority, although Jeff later more or less came to his senses and is now proposing a link ethic between the AP and bloggers, while AP itself also has backed off.

I also happen to come by my view honestly.

That is to say that I have a pretty damned good understanding of copyright law and know a thing or three about libel, as well, after a 37-year newspaper career that included quality time spent in the offices of high-paid newspaper lawyers who were trying to extricate my paper and myself from one legal fix or another.

As it is, the blogosphere is a marvelous work in progress and legal issues such as copyright and libel are only beginning to be ironed out.

So the boycott AP crowd needs to chill and understand that reaching an accommodation with the wire service and other news organizations that get huffy about the use of their content is in their best long-term interests. And that if they insist of throwing temper tantrums they’ll get squashed like bugs by the high-paid lawyers for those outfits. And probably deservedly so.

I myself try to stay out of trouble by doing one simple thing:

Always give credit where it is due to both the primary source and the blog or website through which I might have found the primary source. This is especially pertinent when it comes to use of photographs and other images without permission, and I will hold off using an image if I cannot ascertain its owner and don’t believe it to be in the public domain.

That few bloggers have such standards, let alone any standards, says less about the Wild West nature of the blogosphere than the ignorance of many of the cowboys and cowgirls.

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Cartoon by Gregory/The New Yorker