AP stories embargoed until further notice

by Paul William Tenny

I'm sure it won't mean anything to the AP for me to do this, but I still think it's good for people to express themselves when they've got something to say, so consider this my small act of defiance to one of the corporate giants that controls virtually every news piece that we read.

Until they grow up a little, all news by the Associated Press is here-by embargoed from this site. I won't quote them, I won't link them, and I won't acknowledge their existence until this gets fixed.
If you're wondering why, perhaps the very existence of the most popular form of blogging -- quote and comment -- could end up meeting their makers at the business of end of RIAA/MPAA "we own everything including your mother" inspired lawsuits. In this particular case, the AP is asserting that copying their story headlines and quoting any amount of their stories is copyright infringement, a theory that is plainly contradicted by federal law dictating the public's right to use copyrighted material without prior permission, free, so long as a couple of "tests" are met that can determine if the "fair" in "fair use" actually exists.

Put simply, it has been well recognized by the courts that the smaller the amount of text you copy, the more fair you are being to the rights holder and author. A single paragraph from a news story by anyones definition save the news services is presumptively fair use just by the amount of text copied alone. Using that quoted text to give context to commentary is another test that will sway any decision towards a fair use.

Now the law doesn't actually say how much is too much or how little is just right, but I don't think anybody in Congress or any judge is going to agree that one paragraph from a news article constitutes infringement and a threat to the owners business. I won't get any further into it than that because I'm not a lawyer and you most likely didn't come here to be lectured on the finer points of copyright law -- did you know that the Supreme Court has ruled that anything copied for non-commercial purposes is "presumptively fair use"? -- but I have studied copyright law on and off for the better part of a decade now and I know a BS case of bullying for money and power when I see one.

Ars did a story on this yesterday and one of their sources -- a law professor at Columbia Law School -- didn't believe the AP has much of a case; I tend to agree. In fact it would seem like a lovely case to pursue from our end, even if the site owner that the AP was stepping on doesn't agree. The precedent such a case would set could cement fair-use rights in stone instead of having a continual ambiguity that we're forced to suffer through on a daily basis. A judge, or more likely an appeals court, could be finally forced to set some reasonable limits on these things since certain other people won't step up to the plate and for once make laws that make life easier instead of vague and confusing.

It also might not be such a bad idea to lobby Congress to get off their collective asses and be just a little more specific about what is and is not fair use -- hopefully without the eager participation of corporate media lobbyists.

So I'm following Michael Arrington's lead for now and telling the AP that if they don't want anyone to see their content so badly, then the Internet community will be happy to oblige by burying them in the old-media graveyard where they belong.

Given how horrendous some of the AP "reporters" are these days, I think this might actually be a good thing.
in Internet, News


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