Center for Citizen Media Rotating Header Image

AP Tries to Play with Bloggers, Fails Utterly

Others have said this better already, but the Associated Press is on a fool’s errand with its new program in which it aims to charge others — including some bloggers — for making what is blatantly fair use of AP stories. (See the wire’s (unintentionally hilarious) rate details.)

Issuing take-down notices to the Drudge Retort (a community driven site) is obnoxious, plain and simple. Also wrong.

Not only won’t this fly, but it’s a remarkable demonstration of how not to play well on the Web. I know some of the AP folks involved, and I have to assume they’ve been told what to do by their bosses, because they aren’t nearly this clueless.

Meanwhile I’m taking a breather from linking to AP content, at least until sensible people prevail. Good grief.

0 Comments on “AP Tries to Play with Bloggers, Fails Utterly”

  1. #1 Sean Upton
    on Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    IMHO (I speak for myself, not my employer), this is insulting to member newspapers and local media companies who pay for entitlements for this AP content to be created used. Member newspapers benefit when bloggers, CitJ folks, discussion sites, search engines, and aggregators link to AP stories on their sites. The AP is biting the hand, really. A good dose of candid mea culpa and a real statement of “we get it” via retraction of DMCA notices from AP executives, including Tom Curley would show strong leadership. Anything else would just be more egg on their faces.

  2. #2 Bill Enator
    on Jun 17th, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Dan.. Clueless is being kind..

    The AP is using strong-arm tactics to coerce bloggers and online news to take a license that is certainly not necessary given fair use.

    I’ve compared this to a gang forcing small local business owners to pay for protection from accidents and I think it’s a solid analogy.

    AP certainly feels entitled to ownership of the facts of the day.. or as AP’s strategy VP calls is the “Conversation of the day” … The AP wants what it isn’t entitled to and what the court and the law will never give.. AP can own the expression but the facts of the news are public domain.

  3. #3 Tyson O'Donnell
    on Jun 17th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Hey Dan,
    I just wanted to point out that AP offers you to use their articles for free, which is covered under fair use. The link to do so is:

    Kind Regards,
    Tyson O’Donnell
    Product Marketing Manager

  4. #4 Redoubt
    on Jun 17th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    There’s a game being played right now… one with smoke and mirrors and slight of hand.

    First of all, the AP comes out of nowhere and attacks a single blog.
    After allowing enough time for word of this action to spread and create the uproar that followed, the AP switches gears. Now they are the benevolent mega-corpo-media… a misty vision of Miss Congeniality if you will, that wants to write a new set of rules, for them and by them.

    Next, they use a group of media bloggers, Media Bloggers Association, (oxymoron?) to create the illusion of genuine negotiations but where the sole effort will be the trashing of the Fair Use Doctrine.

    It’s a really grand scheme because if the majority of the blogsphere can be convinced to voluntarily abandon Fair Use in favor of this new matrix, they… the MSM in general, and the AP specifically, will have crippled those hated bloggers.

    To combat this effort, bloggers need to reinforce their support for use of the Fair Use Doctrine and make sure they clearly state that they neither recognize nor support any faux agreement between the AP and the Media Bloggers Association.

  5. #5 Rudolph Bell
    on Jun 17th, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I don’t blame AP for trying to enforce their copyright. They paid for the content; they control it.

  6. #6 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jun 18th, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Y’know Dan, this is a multi-level case study with what’s wrong with the bogosphere:

    1) The issues are widely mis-reported.

    2) There’s a disincentive to report it accurately, since ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION is gained by RANTING.

    3) Anybody who attempted to examine it carefully risks being personally attacked with demagoguery, see point#2 – the few high-status people who did, have various protection.

    4) And the kicker is that recursively, the reasons for points 1, 2, 3 are the same ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION versus support of accurate reporting that are driving the dispute in the first place.

    Bleh. I shouldn’t do these comments. Not a great risk/benefit proposition.

  7. #7 Tom Jones
    on Jun 18th, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Dean Singleton ruins everything he puts his mind to.

  8. #8 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jun 18th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I partially agree with Seth above. But the story hasn’t been wholly misreported. But, indeed, the way the “bogosphere” works is that the big shots transform it into a MSM v. bloggers war and this leads to “way to go Mike!” and other obsequious posts.

    Yes, the AP likely overreached here. But let’s get to the background of what they were reaching for.

    The AP has been trying to squeeze out anyone freely taking their content and using it as an input to an online publishing business. This would include “splogs” (which rip off everybody), and news aggregator sites like As Mike Markson explains, when he was a VP at Topix back in 2005, the AP did send them C&D letters, and they ended up licensing content. (Shortly thereafter, Gannett, Tribune, and Knight Ridder aquired a 75% share in the company).

    Markson shrewdly points out about the AP: “They’re in this weird position where they produce an extraordinary amount of great content, but host pretty much none of it. This puts them directly at odds with their licensees (like Topix, Yahoo, Google, AOL, etc.). The people who host the content LOVE when bloggers (or anyone) links to a story on their site.”

    Certainly the AP guessed wrong in picking on the Drudge Retort. Though one recent comment

    Incidentallly, a commenter to Cadenhead’s blog (er, the other one besides Seth) fished out — a site Bob Cox linked to in the MBA blog — is apparently rewriting AP stories without honest attribution (this is what the AP is trying to hunt down, I suppose).

    In the AP story (and clone), Bob was quoted as saying “More than 100 judgments valued at $17 million have been handed down against bloggers over the last three years, according to Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association. Cox said about 60 percent were for defamation, 25 percent for copyright infringement and 10 percent involved privacy.”

    Interesting — I thought that stat would have been broadcasted a bit further.

  9. #9 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jun 18th, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Sorry for the dangling sentence above. I was trying to fit a lot in, and forgot.

    But let me add this new fact, now that I read Bob’s blog post, he gave a plausible reason why Drudge Retort was targetted:

    “Technically, Drudge Retort got onto AP’s radar because those posts were
    flagged by software used by AP called Attributor. This is a data mining
    spider similar to the bots and web indexers used by search engines;
    content companies can use it to track the use of their content on the

    InformationWeek, and Doug Fisher at U of S.C. (the other one 🙂 in Columbia (of the South 🙂 explains this as well.

  10. #10 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jun 19th, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Here’s when the blogosphere *works* by the way: Jarvis found that Silicon Alley Insider had republished a piece by Dorian Bankoil:

    The AP’s Real Problem Isn’t Bloggers: It’s Its Own Newspapers

    Bankoil had heard a report on “On the Media” of Ohio newspapers undercutting the AP by trading stories amongst themselves. Sounds to me like that’s what’s at stake her.

  11. #11 Associated Press proíbe utilização de seus textos pela mídia colaborativa « Herdeiro do Caos
    on Jun 23rd, 2008 at 8:59 am

    […] duras foram realizadas ao formulario de cotas pagas para reproduzir citações da Agência. Até Dan Gillmor escreveu sobre o […]