AP versus the Internet

I’d missed this news when it first hit the fan, but the Associated Press issued takedown orders to news aggregator sites that have linked to their articles by reproducing a headline and short blurb from the article.

Um, kind of like I do with the TV, eh? site. Thankfully the Associated Press rarely writes about Canadian television. Please Canadian Press, don’t come after me.

I’d actually considered the copyright violation issue when I was determining how the site would work. My original idea was that I wanted to do something like TV Tattle, writing my own blurbs that linked to the source. That would avoid the issue entirely and be the way to give TV, eh? a personality, a voice. It would also be the way to cause the webmaster of TV, eh? to not have a life because she was spending time not only finding the links but writing blurbs, so I abandoned that idea.

I also looked into the copyright issue and was reassured that it would be fair use. I still believe that. The consensus seems to be that Associated Press are jackasses.

Even so, and even knowing that my intent is to drive traffic to the original article, I’d always had a slight worry that some of the reporters or sites I link to would be unhappy with the reproduction, which is why I add the byline and source.

Those worries were erased when I heard from a TV critic I’d had no previous contact with, berating me for not linking to one of his articles and implying that I had an agenda for rarely including his articles. I have no such agenda – what would that agenda be, anyway? — and I have linked to plenty of his stuff. Besides … really? That’s how you want to begin your first interaction with someone? OK then. As a friend pointed out, though, instead of being hurt and annoyed, I should be flattered that he saw value in the links, so I told myself that as I cried myself to sleep that night.

So what’s Associated Press’s agenda here? From comments by AP left at that first post and on Jeff Jarvis’s blog the subtext seems to be that they want to make bloggers pay for their content, even if it is snippets that should be covered by fair use. Bloggers aren’t likely to fight them in court, but it’s a bad PR move for a traditional media company that should be looking at ways to make the Internet work better for them.

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