In Social Media

It's hard to blame a news organization formed in 1846 for being a little out of touch with what's going on with social communication. BUT, when Irene Keselman, AP's Intellectual Property Governance Coordinator, sent a "Digital Media Copyright Act" take down notice to the Drudge Retort on Wednesday, it should have been predictable what the blogoshpere's reaction would be. Swift, severe and negative.

AP claimed that the Drudge Retort violated the definition of fair use because "...taking the headline and lead of a story without a proper license to be an infringement of its copyrights, and additionally constitutes 'hot news' misappropriation."

That may be technically true, but consider;

  • Only small snippets of text were used -- between 33 and 79 words. Not the entire article by a long stretch
  • Five of the six supposed violations used a different headline than the original article
  • The articles contained links back to the original AP article

If THIS is a violation of fair use, then I think the entire blogosphere is guilty of infringement and should be severely punished ... OR, we should change the definition.

Here's a GREAT post by TechDirt on the whole sordid affair:

AP Goes After Bloggers For Posting Article Headlines And Snippets
from the you're-going-to-lose,-badly dept

Last fall, the Associated Press claimed that it was ready to change to face the new internet world -- and that meant not just being a gatekeeper, but joining in the conversation. As we noted at the time, though, AP execs said all that, only to immediately follow that up with plans that looked like it was trying to become a new type of gatekeeper. [Read full article ...]

Important: Note that I used their full headline, full sub-headline and the first couple of sentences. My bet is TechDirt will NOT be sending me a DMCA take down notice because of my skirting of "fair use" of their content. In fact, I bet they actually appreciate that I've given them three inbound links to their article.

I would personally leave it up to the legal beagles to hash out the exact definition of "fair use". HOWEVER, if the AP is going to survive in a global communication environment, they need to know when they're biting the hand that feeds them. (And, I'm NOT talking about their pitch to sell content licenses to bloggers.)

What do YOU think? Is AP within their rights? Is this move intelligent?

Follow up to AP:  If you're listening, your "clue" can be found in the new book Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Burnoff

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