Bloggers to AP: You're Dead to Me

Posted on June 16, 2008

Last week the Associated Press began taking a very aggressive stance on the use of its content. They threatened the Drudge Retort with take-down notices over several items that contained very short 39 to 79 word quotes from its articles. Many bloggers slammed the AP's new tactics. Now, the New York Times reports that the AP is going to set guidelines about how its content can be used on the Internet later this week even though bloggers are following "fair use" rules when quoting AP stories. The Times story says the AP has already backed off its letter to the Drudge Report.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was "heavy-handed" and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

The quick about-face came, he said, because a number of well-known bloggers started criticizing its policy, claiming it would undercut the active discussion of the news that rages on sites, big and small, across the Internet.

TechCrunch writes that its new policy is simply to ignore the Associated Press. Other bloggers are following suit and choosing not to link to the AP. Some are discussing linking to other news organizations like Reuters or other blogs instead of to the AP. Time will tell if the Associated Press will back off from its sudden new stance or whether they really want to be totally at odds with the way the Internet has been progressing.

Update: Now the New York Times Bits blog is calling some blogs hotheaded. They also suggest that a blogger boycott of AP stories would be ineffective. Bits says a boycott of the AP by blogs is "silly" because "none of these blogs actually pays the A.P. any money."

We don't know yet what these AP guidelines will say but one thing should be crystal clear. If some of the top blogs on the Internet decide not to link to a certain website that website will notice. The AP's stories are not centralized but they would still feel the impact of a blogger boycott.

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