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Posted by on Jun 17, 2008 in Media | 4 comments

The AP to Demand Protection Money for ‘Fair Use’ of Its Content?

So it is rumored.  I have a hard time believing that they’d really try it on.  But according to Tim Conneally,  it seems that this may be what they’re thinking.

Where the group had previously invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and sent cease-and-desist orders to at least one blogger, seeking the removal of excerpted content (in some cases as few as 17 words in length), now the press service has attached an "Excerpt for Web Use" charge for passages as short as five words in length.

The pricing scale for excerpting AP content begins at $12.50 for 5-25 words and goes as high as $100 for 251 words and up. Nonprofit organizations and educational institutions enjoy a discounted rate. (BetaNews)

As Markos says, it will be the easiest question in the history of copyright law for a blogger who can afford to litigate, and you know he can.   Many blogs have decided to boycott AP content.  Kos, who can doubtless afford it and who has ‘a JD and specialized in media law,’ is going to fight back by carrying on making ‘fair’ — i.e., legal — use of their materials.

He writes:

Lots of blogs are calling for boycotts of AP content. Not me. I’m going to keep using it. I will copy and paste as many words as I feel necessary to make my points and that I feel are within bounds of copyright law….. And I will keep doing so if I get an AP takedown notice (which I will make a big public show of ignoring). And then, either the AP — an organization famous for taking its members work without credit — will either back down and shut the hell up, or we’ll have a judge resolve the easiest question of law in the history of copyright jurisprudence.

The AP doesn’t get to negotiate copyright law. But now, perhaps, they’ll threaten someone who can afford to fight back, instead of cowardly going after small bloggers. (Kos)

Frankly, everyone should ignore any ‘suggestion’ that ‘fair use’ requires payment and go on quoting AP material as necessary.  Sadly, though, for those without Kos’s resources the standards are anything but clear, so if they carry on targeting smaller sites, they might be able to scare a certain number of people into compliance. 

At Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher writes:

Which brings up a good point. Drudge Retort isn’t doing anything that Boing Boing or Digg or the Huffington Post or any other mega site isn’t doing. So why pick on some little guy who can’t afford to defend itself, for such a truly minor infraction?  It was complete bully tactics.

I still can’t wrap my head around  the idea of charging someone to link to you.  We’ve been witness to some staggeringly stupid acts on the internet, but this one really takes the cake.

Do they understand that if they sue Markos, he’ll get all the traffic he can eat?  Do they even understand the whole concept of traffic?

Apparently not or they’d realize that they benefit from links, quotes, etc.  Morons. 

Atrios:  ‘[T]here’s nothing to talk about. If they want to take this to court, they can, but there are no guidelines to be negotiated here. They don’t write copyright law or get to determine its precise boundaries. It isn’t for them to determine what is legal fair use and what isn’t.’

He further points out that these ‘rules,’ if they had the force of law — they do not — wouldn’t only apply to bloggers but also to scholars, etc. 

At first I was all, ‘Whatever; I’ll see what standards they come up with and decide whether to comply.’  I like to be courteous. 

But it’s not up to them or the Media Bloggers Association — which I didn’t appoint to represent me — to set legal guidelines or demand protection money.