Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AP's Free Speech Problem

Someone at the AP's throwing a hissy fit.
The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.
Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, not so much.
Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.
Basically, there was so much negative feedback, that the AP later issued a statement backtracking, saying it was "heavy-handed" and that it was going to "rethink its policies toward bloggers." Except, well, it hasn't. They're still demanding Drudge Retort - which, correct me if I'm wrong - is all user-submitted content (in other words, very hard to control) - takes down the 39-79 word content. What BS!

Look, no bloggers should be completely ripping content off newspapers and newswires. That's unacceptable. However, newspapers can't suddenly expect bloggers to not use block quotes in their writing - which is pretty much the AP's intent. There's plenty room for give and take, as both sources help each other: newspapers helps bloggers with content, while bloggers help newspapers build readership and reputation. Newspapers must stop viewing blogs as competition and should start looking at us like the bacteria-sucking fish that are any shark's best friend. We'll make sure they don't get sick, as long as they don't eat us.

So, what should the standards for using newspaper content in blogs be? It would be nice to have a Old School/New School Media Convention, inviting all kinds of bloggers, journalists and editors to come together to the table, so we could hammer some of these things away. But I'm not that naive as to think newspapers would embrace it this soon. So, en lieu of that, why should the standards for using newspaper quotes in blogs be any different than using them in academic papers? At UMASS Dartmouth, using the national political science standard (which is fairly similar to other models), students could quote up to three paragraphs in aggregate from a newspaper. That's an eminently fair compromise, allowing bloggers to liberally quote from articles and make sure they get it right, while it isn't quoting so much that it's just stealing the article. That's the standard I've used on this blog since nearly the beginning; it would behoove the AP to adopt something like it, lest they just want their policy to be ignored.


joe said...

Drudge Report is not user-submitted anything.

Matt Drudge sweeps news sites and agencies and chooses particular articles to post on the Report. The power of his site is that the traffic is so ridiculously high, that he can shift national conversation by choosing what to post and what not to post. He can further drive attention to a particular article or subject by highlighting the link in red. Occasionally he'll post some
of his own stuff, like when he broke the Lewinsky story back in the 90's.

Matt Drudge is not a blogger.

Ryan Adams said...

Drudge ReTort, not report.

joe said...

Ohhhhh! I thought you guys were doing that stupid thing where you call something supposedly witty to make fun of it, i.e. Regressives or Repugnicants.

I kept saying to myself "drudge retort isn't even offensive..." too.


Ryan Adams said...

Come now, people on both sides do it. Demoncrat, much? Sadly, it's human nature...

Ari Herzog said...

If you haven't heard, the AP wants to meet with the Media Bloggers Association.

I don't know enough of the issues to speculate but it should be an interesting meeting.

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