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More on the AP flap
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shaun Mullen offers some temperate words in an attempt to calm the seas concerning the brewing conflict between AP and bloggers.
Earth To Pundits: There is no such thing as a free lunch in the blogosphere which makes calls for a boycott against The Associated Press because of its warning that using wire service content in the form of excerpts and links without payment is in violation of copyright law is misguided — or to put it in terms that some bloggers would understand, it's plain stoopid.

I seem to be in the minority on this point of view, and there are some heavyweights like Jeff Jarvis in the majority, although Jeff later more or less came to his senses and is now proposing a link ethic between the AP and bloggers, while AP itself also has backed off.
But that's the problem ... they haven't backed off. They've gotten loonier. They now plan to charge bloggers $2.50 a word for any size excerpt, even those which would fall under fair use.

My original take on the subject was just like Shaun's - we have laws, they define "fair use" and AP has every right to insist those laws be followed. And, if they think they are being abused, they also have the right to pursue legal action or demand compensation.

But, as it turns out, AP doesn't seem to be pursing clarification of "fair use" and the insistence that bloggers heed the law. Instead, it has decided that "no use without compensation" is their new approach.

Fine. They have every right to do that. I agree with Shaun, TANSTAAFL.

On the other side of that, however, is the point that A) I don't have to like their decision since it ignores the law of fair use and B) consequently have an equal right to boycott them for that simple reason. TANSTAAFL also applies to AP.

When cooler heads prevail at AP and they want to seriously discuss fair use as it is outlined in the copyright law, I'll be glad to listen, and perhaps, use them again if I think their take on fair use matches that of the law (I certainly am not going to use excerpts from a service that defines fair use differently or more stringently because the possibility of legal action by them - even if I would win - isn't worth the time or cost to me).

So while Shaun may see a boycott of AP as "stoopid", I see it as a rational response to an irrational decision on the part of AP.

Secondly, AP had best be very careful of its future sources for news or comment. As it will find out, two can play this game of billing for excerpts. And it appears AP has been just as free with excerpting blog entries as it claims blogs have been with its content.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

But that’s the problem ... they haven’t backed off. They’ve gotten loonier. They now plan to charge bloggers $2.50 a word for any size excerpt, even those which would fall under fair use.
I can’t help but wonder - is it possible the AP has seen a drop in revenue as blogs and readier access to independent journalists becomes more common? Could this simply be an attempt by the AP to prop up it’s bottom line?
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
But that’s the problem ... they haven’t backed off. They’ve gotten loonier

Michelle Malkin proposes sending bills to the AP on a per word bases for the times they’ve quotes US... and there’s plenty of these. But more, since my ad campaigns are on a per click basis, I’m busy compiling the number of clickouts to AP sources. based on those clickouts, they’re getting exposure, and one suppsoes exposure to THEIR revenue sources as well. Perhaps I should start charging them for clickouts, like I ’charge’ Adwords?

Written By: Bithead
To me, the wierd part of this is that the amount of money AP would collect, even with active cooperation of well-read bloggers, is pitifully small.

There are probably no more than a thousand political blogs that really matter. The rest are a minor hobby, and virtually none of them are ever going to take the trouble to pay someone money for their occasional ramblings.

Let’s say ten percent of those per day decide to pay AP for a quotation, and that they average, say, $15 per. (That’s wildly generous - I think most political bloggers would never even come close to paying AP $15 every ten days, which would be $45 a month. People blogging for free as a hobby simply won’t pay that, or anywhere close to it. I wouldn’t!)

In that case AP’s daily take, under wildly optimistic assumptions, is $1500. A total for the entire year would come in around $500,000. To an organization the size of AP, that’s absolute chicken feed. And I think that actual number would be a small fraction of that, probably less than $100,000 per year. (Maybe way less, because even that number assumes that the top thousand bloggers would pay an average of $100 per year to AP, which I consider laughable.)

Then we have to consider the fact that they lose advertising money because their traffic drops when linkage to AP articles goes down. Plus transaction costs, which are not a trivial percentage for such small amounts. In the end, AP will be lucky making any money at all.

And for this, they are willing to burn their bridges with thousands of bloggers? It’s lunacy. Can’t these people do simple arithmetic?
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The AP only needs a sympathetic court though... Expect the first "lawsuit" to collect to occur in the lands of the 9th Circuit...
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
To me, the wierd part of this is that the amount of money AP would collect, even with active cooperation of well-read bloggers, is pitifully small.
Exactly my point, Billy... certainly smaller than the exposure they’re getting, is providing them. Consider the number of people exposed to an ad for example, as the result of one instalanche.
And for this, they are willing to burn their bridges with thousands of bloggers? It’s lunacy. Can’t these people do simple arithmetic?
Well, obviously, the only conclusion that one might draw is that the income we’re talking about.... either kind... isn’t their motivation. Just what their motivation is, I don’t know, but I have a nagging feeling that we’re being silenced.

You may recall I mentioned the ’fairness doctrine’ a while ago, and suggested that those pushing it wouldn’t stop at radio, particularly since political blogs are the next biggest trheat to leftist power.

It’s a strech, certainly... but I have to wonder if that isn’t what’s happening here. It would be illogical to not at least raise the question, given we have no more logical explaination to hand, either by conjecture, of from Ap themselves. I, for one, cannot think of a more effective way to silence political blogs than to cut off the sources of news on which they comment, and threaten them with lawsuits.

And isn’t it curious that they do this on the cusp of a hotly contested general election?

I don’t make such charges lightly, but as yet I’ve not seen anyone offer any reasonable argument for why AP would pull this stunt now. Keep in mind, ’reasonable’ is likely the most maliable word in the English language, and we’ve seen no explaination taht meets even that low, wide open standard. We’ve run out of logical reasoning to explain the AP’s actions, here. Thus does Holmes’ axiom apply:
… when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. …
Written By: Bithead
Yea... and the NYT thought they could make some coin by walling off Krugman. It took them a while but the Times finally came to their senses.
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
I thought I was up on internet abbreviations, but... "TANSTAAFL?"

Little help?
Written By: Greg
URL: http://
Greg check out 1 Click Answers. It’s a real handy tool if reading someone like Buckley. Put your cursor over the word and do an alt+click and you get a pop-up answer.
Here is CNET’s download.

"There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch." See digispeak.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Shaun Mullen - could you possibly write a more convoluted sentence? Try a period next time. They are all the rage.

Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Shaun who?
Written By: Bithead
"TANSTAAFL is an acronym for the adage "There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch," popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Ah hah. Thanks for the info, timactual. TANSTAAFL is probably a bit more useful for this site than "tanj," Heinlein’s all-purpose expletive from "Stranger in a Strange Land."
Written By: Greg
URL: http://

"Trial Attorneys of New Jersey"?

"That was a catchphrase in the Ringworld books by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. "

This word is (was, now) unknown to me.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

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