Print 30 comment(s) - last by CryptoQuick.. on Jun 18 at 2:10 AM

The Drudge Retort homepage  (Source: Drudge Retort)
Blogger remains defiant against AP, explores legal options

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provided a valuable tool for copyright owners such as artists and writers to defend their property online.  However, in the ever evolving online community, the DMCA notices, as they are commonly known, are being used more and more often, at times threatening seemingly legitimate sites.

Some argue that the DMCA powers are being used to infringe upon users' online freedoms -- and frequently.  The latest and perhaps most thought provoking DMCA battle is building between the Associate Press (AP) and The Drudge Retort, a social news/blog owned by Rogers Cadenhead, over the reposting of AP article snippets.

Interestingly, the AP is attacking both the owner for his news posts that occasionally contain small excerpts of AP text linked to the original story, and his users who similarly post snippets from various web stories on the internet in the contents.  In both cases, the AP says this makes these pages in question DMCA takedown fodder. 

Pursuit of action against the first alleged type of offense -- site-run reprints -- could threaten many news distribution sites such as Digg, Reddit, and Mixx, which bring news to millions of users a day.  The second purported illegal offense -- users reposting comments is even more far-reaching as users on major news sites frequently have users post snippets from AP articles.

The second allegation in particular is raising a provocative question -- should commenters' actions result in punishment of a site?  If so, this would mean news sites must scour every user post and try to determine if it contained copyrighted content.  While The Drudge Retort is a relatively small fish, the questions raised by the AP's attack are salient to most of the online industry, from news sites, to the multitude of forums that see similar posts.

While it’s possible that major outlets like AP will only target minor, relatively weak targets like The Drudge Retort, some fear that they may begin to target multiple sites, similar to the RIAA's campaign against filesharers.  In the AP lawyers' letter to Cadenhead, they state their belief that "The Drudge Retort users' use of AP content does not fall within the parameters of fair use."

They continue, "AP considers taking the headline and lead of a story without a proper license to be an infringement of its copyrights, and additionally constitutes 'hot news' misappropriation."

Seven takedown notices were filed in total against the site. 

The AP is a wire service, both online and offline which writes news stories that are reprinted for heavy fees by member outlets.  The service does not have its own "inbound links" or "search-juice", contrary a misconception held by some bloggers.  Only its members do, which is why they are willing to pay a premium for it.  The AP's stance, while a bit draconian does make sense from one perspective -- if writers could get the content for free, why would they pay AP so much for it?

The attack on the site is part of a growing campaign of legal actions from the AP.  In October they targeted the news site Moreover owned by Verisign, which has similar type of service, but in its case charges users for it and a variety of other content.  However the Moreover case was slightly more blatant as the site was allegedly reposting entire articles without paying.

The AP debate highlights the questions surrounding the rather ambiguous legal concept of "fair use" which is decided on a case by case basis on many determinates.  Among these are whether the use is part of a commercial effort or if it’s for nonprofit.  Other factors include the nature of the work and the size of the excerpted text in relation to the size of the full original text.  Also considered is the effect on the owner of the copyright.

While Moreover is obviously violating fair use by the above definition, it’s harder to tell with The Drudge Retort.  Its owner obviously sees his site and its commenters' use as fair use, while the AP disagrees. 

While the AP has yet to wage full scale online war to similar occurrences which litter the web and online news, this latest case illustrates a more aggressive shift on its stance on fair use.  The ramifications of the case and those that follow may be extremely significant to the future of the online world.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Spells DOOM
By achintya on 6/16/2008 6:36:44 AM , Rating: 5
This spells doom for many such websites and blogs.
Lets take the example of Wikipedia, which uses information gathered by users and uses citations from various websites to verify such information.
This way even Google could come under the scanner as it too Posts links with a small snippet from the website content. Most news aggregation sites are at fault too then. How can the free nature of the Internet survive? Information sharing becomes completely illegal thus, ripping the very fabric of the Internet.

RE: Spells DOOM
By amanojaku on 6/16/2008 6:54:36 AM , Rating: 2
Lets take the example of Wikipedia, which uses information gathered by users and uses citations from various websites to verify such information.

I agree. DailyTech cites information from other sites regularly, and in my experience always posts a link to the original source. If the "Drudge Retort" gets burned half the Internet will go up in flames soon after.

Worse, user comments are also a target? Say what you want about the content posted by article writers, but don't make them responsible for the content of dozens or hundreds of unaffiliated comments. You'll be making site owners vulnerable to liars and cheats looking to sue!

RE: Spells DOOM
By SunAngel on 6/16/08, Rating: -1
RE: Spells DOOM
By jskirwin on 6/16/2008 12:35:26 PM , Rating: 5
Next time start your post with "I too welcome our RIAA overlords." That'll impress the girls...

RE: Spells DOOM
By joex444 on 6/16/2008 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 4
Well, hopefully this spells doom for the DMCA itself.

A law which is abused and over used and can manage to destroy half the Internet is certainly something that would get looked at closer. I wouldn't doubt a complete abolishment of the DMCA at that point.

We were fine with the previous laws, the problem the RIAA encountered was their failure to capture a new market that could itself be self-sufficient without them. The MPAA is now learning this fact, and the AP is just whining. By going after the low level guys they are testing out how the courts will decide cases so they can go after bigger fish. Ultimately I think if this succeeds they may actually end up destroying the DMCA, and with it, the RIAA & MPAA.

RE: Spells DOOM
By GaryJohnson on 6/16/2008 7:49:30 AM , Rating: 4
It only spells doom for sites that repost content word for word from sources that don't want their content reposted word for word.

If you're reposting content from a source that doesn't care, you're ok.

If you're citing a source for content written in your own words, you're ok.

If someone doesn't want Google reposting portions of their site, they can prevent it using robots.txt and/or meta tags.

RE: Spells DOOM
By mmntech on 6/16/2008 9:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
Ideally you want to put it in your own words but you are allowed to use small snippets of text provided you cite it correctly. Drudge seems to have done this. If this has changed, not only will this effect the internet but it will have massive repercussions on education, notably universities and colleges. This is basically saying you can't use somebody else's text for any purpose without gaining their explicit permission, regardless of proper citation.

I think we should rename the DMCA "Paula Abdul's Law", since when we take two steps forward, it takes two steps back.

RE: Spells DOOM
By GaryJohnson on 6/16/2008 11:18:30 AM , Rating: 2
There are special exemptions that let you use copyrighted works for educational/non-profit purposes.

The Drudge Retort has advertisements, so at the very least it's generating revenue. If the owner could show the site is non-profit that might be a defense against the takedown.

Also, if you look at the infringements in question, they weren't really properly cited. There's no mention that the material was copied from the AP articles or that the material is copyrighted by the AP. (Even though it is obvious this is the case if you follow one of the links.)

The DMCA is bad, but that's not what this is about. This is just basic copyright violation.

RE: Spells DOOM
By MatthiasF on 6/16/2008 7:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
It should be noted that under copyright law, education and non-profit are not exclusive. To quote:

"1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;"

As in, not nonprofit OR educational, but nonprofit AND educational.

RE: Spells DOOM
By AntiM on 6/16/2008 8:28:55 AM , Rating: 2
It's just another example of how the internet has made certain business models obsolete. They will exhaust themselves sending out DCMA notices but in the end, it will have very little impact on preventing the snippets from being posted. If AP goes under, it won't be because people are posting snippets of their stories; it will be because they simply aren't needed anymore. Sounds like another industry we often talk about around here.

RE: Spells DOOM
By JustTom on 6/16/2008 8:54:29 AM , Rating: 2
If sites are allowed to copy AP content wholesale it will certainly harm AP. If they truly weren't needed their content would be ignored rather than copied.

People harp about outdated business models - I do agree that the entertainment industry was slow to embrace the internet - but I have see no one suggest a valid business model that will limit illegal copyright infringement. Frankly, it is my belief that if something can be had for free people will get it for free no matter the legal, ethical, or moral violations involved. People like free stuff and there aint much we an do it about it.

RE: Spells DOOM
By achintya on 6/16/2008 2:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, complete copying of articles is illegal and should not be permitted(Think about plagiarism). But in most cases these are just 'snippets' of the original articles. All contained within the original writing of the poster. Therefore this is not full fledged copying. Also most of the times a link to the original articles is also provided so as to give credit.. therefore this is just citation not completely ripping off of the original articles.. in fact if they(AP) are providing the articles online free of charge then what is their problem if traffic to their website is getting increased?? and that too by a few not-so-rich people looking to make some small money off on disseminating information which they have gathered/inferences they have made. There is no harm done by that. Both parties thus are in a win-win situation. Wonder why AP wants to go into a lose-lose situation....

RE: Spells DOOM
By CryptoQuick on 6/18/2008 2:10:34 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of spelling... DailyTech, would that be the Digital Cillenium Mopyright Act you're referring to in your title?

Where does it all end, I wonder.
By sporr on 6/16/2008 8:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
Im not sure, but, do these news websites not link back to the original source of the information, as does wikipedia?

Either way, if said websites are non-profit organisations/individuals, I can't see how them echoing what was said elsewhere an infringement of copyright, especially if it is only a snippet and they link back to the source and ensure that source is credited for it. Obviously it is a different matter if such websites are profit based.

It just sounds to me like this copyright infringement is beginning to get out of hand, where will it all end :(

RE: Where does it all end, I wonder.
By BillEnator on 6/16/2008 8:59:46 AM , Rating: 2

The issues aren't copyright.. the issue that is at hand is "Hot News".. it's a very murky area of business law.. and it is not adopted across the USA.. I may be wrong but NY is the only state that recognizes it..

Linking isn't the issue with "Hot News" nor is it a profit/non-profit/private distiction.

The facts of the news are in the public domain. No entity can own the facts.. only the "expression" of those facts.

What the AP is trying to do is "Own the news"..

RE: Where does it all end, I wonder.
By JustTom on 6/16/2008 9:21:39 AM , Rating: 3
What the AP is trying to do is "Own the news"..

So AP will soon file suit against CNN, Fox News, Reuters, and numerous other media outlets?

AP is claiming both copyright infringement and hot news misappropriation. Hot news misappropriation is widely recognized. There are federal court decisions that are nearly 100 years old. This right is extremely limited and fairly well defined. The crux of AP’s complaint is Drudge’s use of headlines and leads taken verbatim from AP’s copyrighted content. Drudge is not just reporting on the same stories as AP he is using AP’s words. There are certainly copyright ramifications to such actions; whether it is an example of fair use or not is up to a court to decide.

By elpresidente2075 on 6/16/2008 10:56:44 AM , Rating: 1
So AP will soon file suit against CNN, Fox News, Reuters, and numerous other media outlets?

Actually no. See, those are it's customers. What AP is trying to do is continue to have customers by forcing it's customers to buy their news, rather than getting it for free and not buying their services anymore.

Personally, I feel that AP should adjust their business model to take account for these sorts of issues, as it's not like Drudge is releasing the entire articles, but that's as far as I go.

Monopolistic AP vs online news/bloggers
By BillEnator on 6/16/2008 8:43:29 AM , Rating: 2
The AP is clearly gearing up for a very RIAA-esque stance on what its rights and entitlements are and will bully using threat of lawsuit or outright litigation to manipulate.

I've taken look at some of the litigation that AP has filed recently (AP vs Moreover and the AP vs All Headline News) and i it is clear that AP considers itself the sole owner of wholesale news. It's also very clear that the web, blogging and modern communication has eroded or in many cases eliminated the need for traditional gatekeepers like the AP.

I think that the AP suit against Moreover is pretty solid. Moreover scrapes content and sells the articles, and summaries, in direct competition to the AP. Moreover is just using software routines to scrape the content it sells. What is more interesting is that AP has signed a letter of intent to acquire Moreover. <VERY INTERESTING INDEED>

AP's suit against the online news company called All Headline News service looks much less clearcut and I think more closely mirrors the current DMCA issues. The AP has sued that company, alleging "Hot News", copyright and trademark violations. I don't see the problem that AP claims and I would surmise that like the DMCA complaints of late that AP's case is probably pretty weak. All Headline News however has decided to lawyer up and that probably concerns AP.

The current DMCA case with Drudge Retort however is pretty clearly fair use... and AP is acting like a huge bully trying to force and manipulate Retort and the larger blogging community to kow-tow under threat.

I would say that the AP is seeking a way to prop up their rapidly declining business model and like most Big Media they are litigious... a bad combination... I fear the online news and blogger communities will be teachimg the AP a rather painful lesson about the "Golden Rule".

How many times have the AP or AP members "quoted" or used blogger and other online material? too many times I fear.. Maybe a class action litigation the other way is the coming tidal wave that will end the AP? I hope not, we need the AP, monopoly or not.

Just don't forget that although the AP may raise all sorts of banners and claim lofty ideals that this is all about business and money for the AP. It always was and always will be.

RE: Monopolistic AP vs online news/bloggers
By JustTom on 6/16/2008 8:48:44 AM , Rating: 1
The current DMCA case with Drudge Retort however is pretty clearly fair use... and AP is acting like a huge bully trying to force and manipulate Retort and the larger blogging community to kow-tow under threat.

So no need for a trial? You came to this conclusion pretty quickly; exactly which of AP's documents and Drudge's replies did you examine?

RE: Monopolistic AP vs online news/bloggers
By BillEnator on 6/16/2008 9:13:45 AM , Rating: 2

I've been following the DMCA's and the postings in response on Cadenhead.or.

You know what... You're absolutely right.. I should have included an "I believe" or "I would argue" in that sentence.. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

A trial is likely what will be needed... but I would think that it may not end well for AP, and traditional big media and may in fact show that modern fast communication, including the internet has fundamentally changed what is news, what is allowed and acceptable in modern communications. The laws that are coming into play are almost a century old.


By JustTom on 6/16/2008 9:29:03 AM , Rating: 2
Some of the laws are almost a century old, however there was a major rewrite of copyright law in 1976. Drudge is a for profit entity which limits his chances in court. The copyrighted material being used was supposedly rather small, the headline and the lead sentence, which is a plus for Drudge.

I think there should be a revision to copyright law's regarding fair use considering the enormous change the web brings into play. However, would you trust Congress to act to protect fair use or would Congress be more likely to limit fair use even more? Court cases like this are good because they establish parameters of allowable conduct which is the real problem.

By wordsworm on 6/16/2008 8:44:43 AM , Rating: 2
Interestingly, the AP is attacking both the owner for his news posts that occasionally contain small excerpts of AP text linked to the original story, and his users who similarly post snippets from various web stories on the internet in the contents.

'snippets from various web stories' Can you be more specific? Are these snippets a few words, a few sentences, or a paragraph or two? Also, are the original writers credited by using a correct citation?

Wholesale copying of content is illegal and should be enforced. Quite frankly, reposting the same content is pretty much cheating. Hire a writer or take the time to paraphrase and/or rehash the source so that it's original content. Not doing so is bad for writers in general.

If folks are following the general guidelines that are used by academia, then I find it hard to believe that there would be any success by the lawyers. After all, it would quickly put into question the legitimacy of any academic magazine, theses, etc. So, I can't help but wonder how much these sites that they're going after have infringed.

Should users' comments be censored? It's certainly easy to say that I would like to have complete anonymity in posting my feelings. However, I can't help but support the idea that I must also be held accountable for whatever I say. Being an advocate of legalizing recreational drugs, I can honestly say I wouldn't want the RCMP or Interpol tracking my movements after a passionate post about how making drugs illegal and the war on drugs is really a war on the people and a war against personal freedoms - and that drug culture is something that the world shouldn't be afraid of (I could go on, but I'm afraid I'd wander from the original intent of this point.) I get hassled enough by authorities whenever I go home (they're really nosy). Maybe a censor could figure out my ID and put a note to do a full cavity search, or rape my hard disk, whenever I cross a border, for example.

Perhaps, then, the person who owns the site needs to funnel some of the profits made by ads into hiring some people to actually go through all the posts. On the other hand, maybe the AP needs to come up with some free software that could politely indicate to webpage owners when a copyright is being infringed. Certainly no censor in the world can be so intimately familiar with all the copyrighted material in the world that they can spot an illegal post.

Well, in any case, the issue isn't an easy one that will go away any time soon. I think the AP has to pursue this in order for some balance to be found. Surely they'll go to an extreme that will be retarded, but I find nonetheless that the pursuit of protecting writers' and publishers' rights is worthwhile.

Remember, the Internet is still a very young medium. The law, in the best sense of the word, needs to find a way to protect everyone's rights. This isn't an easy task, and without folks like the RIAA and AP going overboard, there is no way for the law to figure out where the lines should be drawn.

In any case, clearly nothing is simple, but it's my opinion that this is a necessary thing for us to all have our collective rights and even employment protected.

RE: Question
By borismkv on 6/16/2008 11:51:07 AM , Rating: 2
According to the AP style rules, as well as multiple other citation rules like MLA, a quotation with more than three words in exact order is considered plagiarism if it is not properly cited. Furthermore, any quotation by a commercial entity without express written permission of the original copyright owner to reprint material is grounds for lawsuit. This isn't under the DMCA rules, but has been the standard law for print Journalism for decades. The AP is using the very small portions of the DMCA that I agree with that apply copyright law to modern distribution methods.

I personally do not believe it is right for any person to claim the work of another as their own. I believe that the blogging community needs to adapt some serious etiquette to posting information. For example, bloggers should be stating their opinion and backing it up with articles only by linking the original. Not quoting it word for word. It isn't difficult.

A good bit of the money the AP makes goes to pay the journalists who write the articles. Each time someone prints AP information without paying the AP fee basically pulls money right out of some journalist's pocket. And if that person is then making money off the deal themselves, it becomes quite a bit worse in my eyes. Which is why I sincerely hope that Dailytech is paying the AP fee. Cause if they aren't, well, our friend Jason Mick might be in a bit of trouble some day soon. And I'm not going to shed a single tear when that happens.

By eetnoyer on 6/16/2008 6:33:56 AM , Rating: 3
Jason, you might want to brush up on your acronyms. Almost as bad as our IT manager refering to the DCHP server.

By nvalhalla on 6/16/2008 9:48:04 AM , Rating: 3
The first rule of AP articles is, you don't talk about AP articles!

Kind of figured
By NeoConned08 on 6/16/2008 7:29:32 AM , Rating: 2
Check out HR1955. Combine that with the Patriot Act then throw this into the mix and we have ourselves a very good diffuser of dissent brewing.

AP actions != RIAA strong-arming
By borismkv on 6/16/2008 3:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
First off, DMCA takedown notices are nothing to worry about. It's simply polite to inform people that they are in fact violating copyright law. This gives infringers the opportunity to correct their mistake by removing copyrighted material. Were the AP to have simply demanded that the Drudge Retort pay a fine immediately, I would have something against that. But they aren't. They are simply protecting their investment in the news stories their journalists write which includes costs associated to travel and payroll for said journalists to do their jobs.

Now, I don't believe that journalism is even remotely perfect, but I like the AP a great deal because of their efforts to report as even-handedly as possible. They are the only news source that still even *tries* to do so. I have no problems with them enforcing the law to protect their copyrights and allow the people who write their stories to be paid.

I *do* have a problem with the writer of this article's attitude toward the AP. I just have to ask. Do you believe that the people who work for the Associated Press have no right to be paid for their work? Should everything the AP prints be freely available for everyone? If you think that is so, get real. The second that happens then the information superhighway becomes the misinformation superhighway. The vast majority of information stops being quality and starts becoming rumor and conjecture, and the art of Journalism disappears entirely.

The standards for AP articles are a hell of a lot higher than those for tabloid journalists and bloggers like Jason Mick. Yeah. Tabloids are fun to read, but they are rarely accurate and always sensationalized. As for bloggers, well, there are a precious few that actually do the work required to produce quality, unbiased, solid journalistic work. The vast majority of the blogosphere is propaganda, rumor, and ranting.

By CryptoQuick on 6/16/2008 8:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press, following criticism from bloggers over an AP assertion of copyright, plans to meet this week with a bloggers' group to help form guidelines under which AP news stories could be quoted online.

Slippery Slope
By darkfoon on 6/17/2008 1:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
Next they'll be handing out DMCA lawsuits when you tell your friends about what you read on an AP news outlet.

(This is sarcasm)

erm - wrong word alert.
By wordsworm on 6/16/08, Rating: 0
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki