The blogosphere is starting to buzz. What’s the buzz? AP has kicked up about bloggers posting short, linked excerpts without paying.
Out-law.com says that the Associated Press issued Rogers Cadenhead (of the Drudge Retort) a series of takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The stories contained excerpts from 33 to 79 words long of AP stories, with links to the original articles.
The Drudge Retort defends these excerpts as fair use.
Wired reports that the AP has been a little rocked by the blogosphere’s defiant response:
“We need to take a step back. It doesn’t mean we’re going to try to define a legal standard for fair use. All we’re saying, we’re going to figure out how the bloggers can use our content in a way we feel gives them a lot of leeway but still protects us,” Jim Kennedy, an AP vice-president, told Threat Level in an interview.
Kennedy added: “Do we really want to take this fight into the blogosphere? I think the answer to that question is, ‘no we don’t.’ Bloggers are different. That distinction was not being made. To that extent, this has been a helpful episode.”
The Citizen Media Law Project site discusses the debacle:
As Jeff Jarvis notes, the AP “is ignoring the essential structure of the link architecture of the web. It is declaring war on blogs and commenters.”
In fact, it is very likely that the posts AP is complaining about on Drudge Retort are permissible fair uses under the Copyright Act. First, several posts appear to be offering commentary on recent news items. […]Second, all of the posts use fewer than 80 words from the original AP articles. […] Third, it is hard to see how the posting of AP headlines and 80 word snippets could possibly impair the market for the original AP articles
While AP is entitled to issue a set of guidelines for the use of its articles, these guidelines are not legally enforceable and they cannot narrow the scope of what is permissible under the fair use doctrine. The blogging community needs to be careful not to allow these guidelines to become a de facto set of norms that constrain the permissible uses of news content.
And the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) is on the case:
If the AP were right, that would sharply limit a practice widely used throughout the blogosphere to help spread information and promote public discussion. Many of those bloggers have worked as reporters, so you’d think they’d be well attuned to the issues here. If copyright means what the AP seems to thinks it means (which seems questionable), maybe the problem is with the law, not the bloggers.
And Whiskey Fire discovers what the AP is really after:
| Excerpt for Web Use
License parts of this article for republishing on your website or intranet. Pricing based on the number of words excerpted.
 106 words.
 168 words.
 67 words.
If these excerpts had been from AP articles, the Associated Press would be wanting to invoice me for $125.00. Their pricelist alone should have cost me $17.50. Did you get your money’s worth today, Hoydenizens?