In response, it began to escalate
its legal campaign against the blogging community, which it feels is
undercutting its revenue by reposting article snippets without paying.
However, the AP's content has become
such a fixture in the internet world that this campaign may lead either to
dangerous campaign against major sites such as Wikipedia, or to a double
standard in which small blogs are attacked, but major sites are spared.
The blogging community is striking back at what they feel is an atrocious abuse
of fair use via Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns. They
have launched a campaign humorously entitled "FU AP". Leading
the campaign is the BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis. He
writes that he once hoped that the AP
would survive and overcome its challenges, but he's reconsidered and may want
to take that back.
He states, "The AP has filed
truly noxious takedown notices against Rogers Cadenhead’s community-created
Drudge Retort, arguing copyright violations for quotes from 33 to 79 words
long. For shame, AP."
Jarvis says the AP "leaches off
original reporting and kills links and credit to the source of that
journalism." He says that while it is legally entitled to do so, in
that it pays members to reproduce their reporting, in doing so the AP is violating the ethic of linking
news, a guiding tenet of the online news culture. Jarvis suggests that news
aggregators such as Google News, Inform, Daylife, and Pro
Publica start linking only to original sources, skipping the AP entirely.
Google's deal with the AP is among
the items he objects to. He says that Google should be linking to
original content, not licensing to the AP,
though he acknowledges that the AP
deal significantly jump-started the site.
The call to arms is continued with a statement, "In its complaint against
Cadenhead, the AP is flouting fair
use and fair comment. It is ignoring the essential structure of the link architecture
of the web. It is declaring war on blogs and commenters. So let’s fire back. I
urge bloggers everywhere to go to the AP
and reproduce a story at length in solidarity with Cadenhead and Drudge
Jarvis proceeded to repost a 146-word long section of an AP article as an example to his readers. He then provided
links to the original
article, a story from Gazette Online about the flooding in Illinois,
which he says is far better than the AP's
"homogenized version" of the story. He encourages other
bloggers to join him in fighting the AP's
revenue scheme by linking to the original source, putting the power back in the
hands of the writers and taking it from the redistributors.
Along with Jarvis's new campaign, the owner of the blog most recently attacked
by the AP, The Drudge Retort, posted
a response to the AP's
claims. Rogers Cadenhead, owner of The Drudge Retort, states that
the AP has used DMCA takedown notices
on 6 of his blogs which contained AP excerpts
between 33 and 79 words with links to the AP
article. Only one of the six took the AP
headline, the other five had user-created headlines. Cadenhead's site
encourages its over 8,500 users to post blogs. Of the blogs which the AP is demanding the site take down, two
of them were written by Cadenhead himself, while the rest were user created.
The AP also ordered a takedown of
another blog, for a user comment, which included two paragraphs from an AP article. The AP states that the blog excerpts and the
user-commented blog amount to "hot news' misappropriation under New York
Ironically, Cadenhead points out, the original content creators of the stories
encourage reuse in many cases. The original source of two of the disputed
articles was Yahoo News, which
encourages bloggers to use its items. Two more of the citations were
sourced from USA Today, which contains a tool to easily translate
articles to Digg or Mixx form. Attorney Wade Duchene, who
had previously assisted Cadenhead in a domain name dispute, is siding with the
blog owner, stating that the AP is
wrong and that The Drudge Retort's actions are the "absolute
definition of fair use."
Cadenhead acknowledges that the law forces him to take down the blogs in
question whether or not he thinks they're fair use. However, he
encourages users to file counter-notices to the AP asserting their own copyright. He also encourages AP's Intellectual Property Governance
Coordinator Irene Keselman, author of the letter sent to him, to explain the AP's position in more detail.
As the war of words between the AP
and blogger escalates, it brings two things into question -- one, the legality
of the bloggers' practice of linking to and posting small excerpts from
copyrighted texts, and secondly the legitimacy of the AP's underlying business model, which is accused of
disenfranchising both the writers and the citers. Ultimately, though, the
growing debate is proving, above all else, to be unfortunate distraction to the
real task at hand -- covering the news.