AP: Yeah, we’d better cite pajama-wearing bloggers, too
Good article at ARS on how the AP appears to be tacking into a different course. Is this temporary relief now that fortunes are picking up, or is it a permanent change and recognition of how things really are?
At the AP’s 2009 annual meeting, Chairman Dean Singleton reminded his audience (read the speech) that the AP and its members “are the source of most of the news content being created in the world today.” The collective remains “the gold standard of newsgathering and reporting throughout the world.” And with 62 journalists killed, beaten, or detained in 2008, journalism “is not a profession for the fainthearted, or those who work in their pajamas.”
This final phrase was inaccurate—at Ars, for instance, we never break news while wearing anything less than an ascot and monocle—and surprisingly juvenile; one can feel the acid dripping from those words, even through a screen. The speech amounted to a near-total dismissal of bloggers as anything more than parasites in the news ecosystem. In the same talk, Singleton talked about how the AP “must be paid fully and fairly,” then announced a new plan to pursue “misappropriation” of its content on the Internet.
I’d quote more from Singleton’s speech, but the AP’s automated excerpting system informs me that I’ve already rung up a charge of $17.50 for my quotes above. Another sentence or two and I’d bump up into the $25 bracket. Fair use certainly applies here, but the AP warns darkly that “there is no specific number of words or lines that may safely be taken without permission” and that I may “want to do an internet search of ‘fair use checklist’ and ‘copyright myths.’” To be safe, I’d best pay up. (I took my chances with fair use instead, as the AP itself does every day.)
Don’t rewrite us, either
Over the course of 2009, it became clear that the “misappropriation” that so bothered the AP wasn’t just rank copyright infringement; it also included people who “rewrite” a bit too much AP news—even though copyright doesn’t protect ideas and facts, just their specific expression.
At a Federal Trade Commission conference this year, the AP’s Laura Malone expanded on this notion of “hot news,” in which the AP has some control even over the facts found in its stories.