For those that don’t spend their free time staring at their feed readers waiting for something to change, a major story has hit the blogosphere today about the AP issuing a DMCA takedown notice. The notice was sent to the Drudge Retort, the left wing equivalent of the Drudge Report. While sending such notices is not uncommon and I have sent a few myself, this heavy-handed action has set the blogosphere on fire as well as force the A.P. to reconsider its policies concerning copyright. Since I don’t have time to recap the whole issue, you can read up on it HERE and I will continue onto my thoughts.
The real issue here revolves around fair use. Are people allowed to take small quotes from the A.P. news stories for the purpose of starting a discussion while still linking back to the original story. If you are looking to understand fair use a little bit better as it applies to this case, it would be a good idea to head over to the post at Ars Technica. The concept of fair use is one of the most vital ideas to the blogosphere.
The blogosphere largely revolves on the ability to harvest bits and pieces of news from other sources and using them to stimulate a discussion on a topic while making sure to give credit to the original source of the story. If old media juggernauts like the A.P. can successfully keep people from blogging about news stories they consider copyrighted or exclusive, this will virtually kill many blog posts that use mainstream media for news on which to put their own spin. News should be treated as public knowledge, not limited to a single source. One of the great things about both old and new media is the idea you can choose where you get your information. Competition brings out the best in everybody!
The line in the sand has been drawn. On one side you have the blogosphere where people such as Mike Arrington are banning the use of A.P. stories on popular blogs such as TechCrunch and on the other side you have the A.P., an organization that is owned by 1,500 newspapers who wants to cry about something that has been used by many people as a great advantage with sites such as Digg.
Shortly after the story broke and the backlash began, the A.P. decided it needed to set guidelines for using its stories in blogs. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., called the letters “heavy-handed” and said they were rethinking their policies toward bloggers. The A.P. hopes to work with the Media Bloggers Association to help define guidelines for the use of their stories on blog posts. Despite this, the threat still remains to the current way blogging is done. No matter what solution is reached, it will not please everybody and the bigger the issue becomes, the bigger the publicity headache the A.P. will have.
My advice to the A.P.: It takes seconds for news to spread across the internet so take every link back to your site that you can and be happy with that.
I could go on and on about this, going into each aspect of the story, but I have other things I need to do before I head home. On the small chance I do a podcast this week, I will likely use some of the time to rant about this.