UPDATE: AP and Blogger Come to Agreement on Use — But Questions Remain

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By: E&P Staff

As noted in previous articles here and elsewhere, The Associated Press has been engaged in a struggle with parts of the blogosphere over how much can be quoted from AP dispatches on non-member sites, such as the Drudge Retort. AP had said it would be meeting with representatives of a bloggers’ group to try to iron things out.

Last night AP released the following statement: “In response to questions about the use of Associated Press content on the Drudge Retort web site, the AP was able to provide additional information to the operator of the site, Rogers Cadenhead, on Thursday. That information was aimed at enabling Mr. Cadenhead to bring the contributed content on his site into conformance with the policy he earlier set for his contributors. Both parties consider the matter closed.

“In addition, the AP has had a constructive exchange of views this week with a number of interested parties in the blogging community about the relationship between news providers and bloggers and that dialogue will continue. The resolution of this matter illustrates that the interests of bloggers can be served while still respecting the intellectual property rights of news providers.”

However, Cadenhead today on his blog raises serious issues. His comments in part:

“I’m glad that my personal legal dispute with the AP is resolved, thanks to the help of the Media Bloggers Association, but it does nothing to resolve the larger conflict between how AP interprets fair use and how thousands of people are sharing news on the web. You could probably guess that by the lack of detail in AP’s statement.

“I spent around two hours yesterday talking to AP attorneys about their specific objections to the user blog entries in dispute, going line by line through the text to pinpoint exactly where they have intellectual property concerns in the short excerpts that were posted. I won’t reveal the details of this discussion until AP releases the guidelines for bloggers that it promised on Monday.

“On a social news site that’s still manageable in size, like the 8,500-member Drudge Retort, it’s possible to steer bloggers away from potential conflicts with media organizations by working directly with users. But 25 million people visited a social news site last month, and thousands of people are sharing news links in a way that’s in direct conflict with AP’s interpretation of fair use regarding the headlines and leads of its articles.

“If AP’s guidelines end up like the ones they shared with me, we’re headed for a Napster-style battle on the issue of fair use…..

“As a newspaper reader since age 8 and the spouse of an investigative reporter, I want the media to keep making enough money to afford the expensive and essential practice of journalism. I sure as hell don’t want to do all that reporting myself.

“If AP’s core business is to report the news, blogs and social news sites send millions of people to its articles every day. Retort users have posted 41,000 links to news stories in the last four years, each link sending from 1,000 to 5,000 readers directly to a media site to read the article.

“If its core business is to repackage the news, they’re in as much trouble as every other middleman on the web.”

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