Dear AP: You Don’t Get To Make The Rules

I don’t really like to blog about copyright and whatnot much as I think it gets pretty tedious. That said, this stuff the Associated Press is trying to pull is a bit much. Last week it got pissed off that a site called the Drudge Retort was posting links to AP stories with a cut-and-pasted snippet of text, as is perfectly acceptable under the copyright doctrine of fair use. (See Techdirt for more background on the story.) Not really anything too surprising from such a stalwart of the MSM.

Now the AP plans to, according to the New York Times, “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.” The AP wants to set some sort of guidelines that bloggers and others should follow when it comes to quoting its material, and will apparently attempt to define fair use — in such a way as to fit its means and motives, of course.

The thing is, though, AP, you don’t get to make these rules. Fair use is an already established doctrine in the Copyright Act of 1976, and specifically doesn’t let the copyright holder make the determination about what is and isn’t fair use. It specifically doesn’t involve the holder.

The arrogance of this move aside, it would also seem the AP doesn’t really like people linking to its stories (see Belgian newspapers v Google). Fair enough. I’ll join all the other folks in actively not linking to it.

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