The Associated Press is trying to tighten up the rules about how much of its stories can be ‘lifted” and used on websites.
The agency, which is one of the world’s largest and most quoted, claims that some bloggers are using far more material from its stories than it considers permissible and even infringes on the AP’s copyright. Often, the agency claims, entire news stories and articles are copied. Sometimes it goes well beyond what might be considered “fair use”, the agency says.
It’s the first time the news service has tried to put a lid on the excessive use of its material.
Lifting material from other sources is now a mainstay of many bloggers – and AP, which is co-operatively owned by more than 1,500 newspapers, is a premium source.
Recently AP has launched a get-tough policy. Its first target was a site called the Drudge Retort. It wrote a letter to the site asking for the removal of seven items that contained quotations from AP articles ranging from 39 to 79 words. As a result a number of bloggers have already publicly criticised the AP – claiming if the clampdown is enforced it would undercut “active discussion” which is now an integral part of the internet.
The Drudge Retort was originally started as a Left-leaning parody of the Drudge Report, run by the well-known conservative writer Matt Drudge. Now The Retort has become more of a social newssite and claims a large following,
The AP is planning to meet with representatives of a trade group called the Media Bloggers Association, in an effort to draw up rules and guidelines that will be acceptable to all parties. The AP is particularly hoping that its can limit the use of its material to short summaries rather than direct quotations.
If no agreement can be reached it is possible that the courts might be asked to make a ruling of what can be considered fair. But as a senior executive of the AP, Jim Kennedy, who holds the title of strategy director, put it the agency hopes it won’t have to go that far. “We are not trying to sue bloggers. That would be equivalent of suing grandma and the kids for stealing music. That is not what we are trying to do”, he insisted.