AP Fair Use & Blogging Link Policy

Someone beat me to it:

"Here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist.
We don’t see them, we don’t quote them, we don’t link to them. They’re banned
until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same
until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of
information around the Internet."

Michael Arrington, Tech Crunch

Done . . .

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. x-er commented on Jun 17

    I think we should do the opposite. Flood them with links. Bury them.

    Ten posts a day each with a link. Could all be to the same story. Doesn’t matter.

    Show them how useless it is. How many take down notices a day can they send out? What if we challenge every notice as fair use?

    Of course, that’s just me.

  2. Joe Klein’s conscience commented on Jun 17

    Exactly. Whether you agree with him politically or not, Markos of DailyKos fame has the right idea. He also has lawyer training. Basically his point is that the AP is barking up the wrong tree and that since he has money, he is challenging the AP to sue him.

  3. KJ Foehr commented on Jun 17

    I guess I don’t understand this business model. Aren’t AP and Reuters’s, etc in the business of selling news stories? Don’t they lose a lot of customers when their stories are instantly spread around the internet and are available for free on Google and elsewhere? I don’t get it. Maybe nobody actually pays for news services?
    Also, how can we complain about China’s violation of intellectual property rights when we do it ourselves? These stories are copyrighted aren’t they? I excerpt and link to news stories a lot in my comments here and elsewhere, but I always wonder if it is really right or not.

  4. cinefoz commented on Jun 17

    They’re probably just pissed off over at the AP offices because they’re tired of people pointing out how ignorant and inexperienced their reporters often appear to be. Maybe they should just get out of business news entirely until their quality control improves. Their reporters are generally wrong more often, especially when it comes to associating cause and effect, than everyone else combined.

  5. michael schumacher commented on Jun 17

    Something I never thought I’d write:

    I totally agree with Cinefoz….and have to say that reality has crept back into your posts…good to see it as it’s never been about being bull or bear…just reality.

    M.A. is still a major douche as he plays the product placement game a little too well.

    His reviews lost objectivity when he cashed the VC check. Ditto Rose, Zuckerberg and a few other’s I can’t recall.


  6. Dan Lewis commented on Jun 17

    Is the complained about use really fair use? I’m surprised that (beyond me) no one is really asking that question.

    That’s not to say the AP is not out of their collective minds.

  7. ali_M commented on Jun 17

    Who cares. AP,UPN, CNN, NPR etc… they ALL say the same thing. “The gov. said….”, “The gov. reports….” there is NO investigating reporting anymore.. they’ve all become pawns of the gov. The new Thomas Paines of this world is the blogs, the press has abandoned its role in this democracy/republic… I don’t need to know what the gov. says, I can read it myself… I want a press that questions the gov’s statements…. researches and refutes them…
    The press should be ashamed… where is all the news about the tent cities around the country? And how come the Europeans report this but not the U.S. press?

  8. Jim Haygood commented on Jun 17

    “[AP] do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law. They claim that the activity is an infringement. The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows.” — Michael Arrington

    Precisely. “Fair use” is a judgment call, not a precise rule. But quoting a sentence or a paragraph, with a link to the source, has always been considered within bounds.

    Fully concur with Barry — entities who get too uppity about their “intellectual property” need to be shunned until they understand that information consumers have rights too. Copyright laws are an attempt to BALANCE those interests, not to unilaterally hand dictatorial control to content creators.

  9. Estragon commented on Jun 17

    Dan Lewis,
    It isn’t at all clear to me whether or not AP has a valid point (legally) on the fair use defense to copyright. The amount of material copied is only one factor in establishing a valid fair use defense.

    In a way, what AP is doing could be a positive thing for the blogosphere, in that by granting specific use of their work they’re providing assurance to users that they needn’t worry about having to invoke a fair use defense at all.

  10. Alaskan Pete commented on Jun 17

    Glad to see you’re on board BR.

  11. POD commented on Jun 17

    Agreed Ali_M

    Their quality has gone down the tubes(pun not intended), not journalism but newsy or newz at best. Makes it quite easy to simply ignore them.

  12. Phukem commented on Jun 17


    My lawyer can beat up your lawyer…WAAAAAAAAAA.

    Add this to your hosts file ap.org

    http://www.funkytoad.com/ for a good tool to manage host files.

  13. crack commented on Jun 17

    I think the AP will be perfectly happy with no one linking to them. They don’t make money on ads or pageviews. They sell stories to news outlets. Having bloggers no longer quoting stories helps those outlets. The odds of me clicking through to an AP story decreases drastically with each word in the linking post. A straight linking with no quoted material will probably get me there quickest, but any quote at will likely give me enough info to skip the link.

  14. constantnormal commented on Jun 17

    This comes perilously close to the AP thinking that they “own” or “create” the news.


    I’m fairly confident that software can be created that will automatically re-phrase their content, and post it using some non-specific attribution, like “a well-known news organization said …”.

    After all, this is “news” and not some unique or distinctive product. Their timeliness, name and reputation is really all that they have, and they are suing people who bring other people to their stories and spread their brand.

  15. Douglas Watts commented on Jun 17

    What AP is doing is basically like a record company forbidding radio stations from playing its records (and never mind ASCAP and BMI fees). Their policy is monumentally stupid. The Associated Press is print newspapers, primarily. Print newspapers are dying and desperately need to develop effective on-line presences to survive. As such, AP and its member newspapers should be ENCOURAGING as many links and as much use judicious quoting of their content as possible. It’s one thing if a website is literally re-posting every single AP story on the wire in their entirety. But that’s not the case.

  16. Estragon commented on Jun 17

    Douglas Watts,

    A closer analogy might be record companies asserting copyright on sampling.

    Playing songs on the radio without paying fees is a clear infringement. Sampling and including portions of songs in new songs without permission wasn’t so clear cut.

  17. Pool Shark commented on Jun 17


    “I’m fairly confident that software can be created that will automatically re-phrase their content, and post it using some non-specific attribution…”

    Hey, why not just run their articles through Wordle and post them at TBP?

  18. MitchN commented on Jun 17

    Constantnormal wrote:

    After all, this is “news” and not some unique or distinctive product. Their timeliness, name and reputation is really all that they have, and they are suing people who bring other people to their stories and spread their brand.

    Ridiculous. The “this” you allude to is not “news” — it’s nothing until a reporter finds the story (whatever it might be), writes it up, and submits it for editing and formatting. As such, it is unique — and it costs beaucoup $$ to produce. The AP brand ain’t worth shit if the cooperative can’t recoup its costs — and, thanks to the Internet, that’s what’s happening.

    I get so tired of all this brand blather. You can’t eat a brand and it sure as hell won’t keep you warm at night.

  19. Bob A commented on Jun 17

    who needs ’em anyhow?

  20. donna commented on Jun 17

    They’re not called the asspress for nuthin’, you know.

  21. Andrew Horowitz commented on Jun 17

    You know it was coming to this. The blatant ripping off of information…. How do you feel when someone takes your good and well thought out work and uses it on their site? What we have here is going to eventually be the end of the blogger who simply cuts and pastes and claims as their wonderful post.

    I seem to recall a recent broohaahaa over usage by sites that re-use financial bloggers work. Remember? Sure, that is not apples to apples, but no one like to give up their product. AP, while fair game is just trying to protect their company and the brand.

    My site is continually scraped and redistributed so that some masher can get ad hits. Got to stop somewhere. AP is drawing a line….that will be tested I am sure..
    Andrew Horowitz

  22. Douglas Watts commented on Jun 17

    Fair use encompasses most brief snippets of AP stories that you find on blogs. Publishing a headline that is hot-linked to the story as the topic of a discussion thread (ala Drudge Retort or Eschaton) would be fair use as well. What would not be fair use is a site that posts significant chunks of AP member news stories as the primary “content” of the site; or condenses an entire swath of AP stories into 50-word news briefs and presenting it as content.

    I don’t blame AP for protecting its product. Its product is strings of words and sentences. Those strings of words and sentences are very expensive to generate. But past a certain level it gets ridiculous — sort of like if NYSE sent cease and desist letters to anyone who listed a stock price on their blog.

    Interestingly, one of most strongly protected uses of copyrighted material is for parodies and satire. If an AP story is quoted or excerpted as part of a satirical essay on a blog, it is protected political speech under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court and lower courts have always resisted attempts to curtail political speech via libel and copyright laws. cf. “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

  23. Dan Lewis commented on Jun 17

    @Douglas Watts:

    Can you point to an analysis of the fair use factors (or better, a case!) which suggests that the Drudge Retort’s use was a fair use? I did the analysis myself and came to the conclusion that it’s a much closer call than the blogosphere nearly unanimously claims, so I’d love to see something disagreeing with me.

  24. Risk Averse Alert commented on Jun 17

    Who quotes A.P. when “All the Fits News to Print” (a la David Einhorn) are available from the NY Times?

  25. David Yaseen commented on Jun 17

    It is curious to me why the AP cares about this issue: it is a non-profit organization, and its constituent members benefit, roughly proportionally, from blogger links. If the Podunk Journal finds itself with an avalanche of lucrative hits from bloggers twice a year, the NYT (an AP member) does 20 times a day, and the rest likewise. Why would the umbrella organization grind its teeth over that? If it weren’t for the aggregators (blogs), newspaper website traffic would be much lower than it is now, and their business model would be dying even faster than it is.

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