I hesitate to make too much time for writing about media law, partly because I’m not a lawyer and partly because the hospital keeps asking when I’m going to get this cooler over there so they can do their precious heart transplant operation.
But I feel I must point out that the execrable venerable Associated Press is acting like a fat sweaty bully over the issue of blogs and copyrights.
Here’s the issue: The AP is upset that blogs quote content from their stories — even in cases where those stories are then linked to from the blog. One would think the AP would be OK with limited quoting (obviously not the whole story or anything), since it clearly drives people’s eyeballs in their direction.
Nope. The AP says blogs should license any content they quote over 5 words, at a rate beginning at $12.50 for a 5-25 word segment. Want to quote a 252-word paragraph? That’ll be $100, please.
Essentially what the AP is doing here is writing its own laws on fair use — a well-worn legal construct that allows me to quote movie characters saying things such as “The AP is a sack full of crap left out in the sun if you ask me, Tex,” and even to offer small samples of songs, such as the Sweat Pant Boners’ “Associated Press are Bollocks let’s all Read Reuters Oi Oi Oi,” for criticism or parody.
Or as Patrick Nielsen Hayden puts it:
Hey, why have laws? Let’s just ask established businesses what kinds of behaviors they find inconvenient, and then send the police around to shut those behaviors down. Imagine the effort we’ll save.
Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish.
I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone with even a semester of media law under their belt that the AP’s demands would be annihilated in any sensible courtroom. But still, who’s the first poor blogger to challenge those douches, and who’s going to cover his or her legal expenses?
I’ll tell you one thing. It won’t be us. That’s why I’m sticking to four-word only quotations from AP stories, such as the following:
“California has no residency”
I’d give you the context, but what am I, made of money?