Bloggers to AP: You're Dead to Us

Posted on June 17, 2008

Bloggers from both sides of the political aisle, from celebrity gossip and just about every other kind of site are uniting to refuse to link to any stories from the Associated Press. It all started when the AP sent a threatening letter to The Drudge Retort, a social media site that began as a spoof of The Drudge Report. The AP claimed copyright infringement because the site excerpted a few words of text and then linked to the AP, as is standard procedure under the fair use exception to the copyright laws.

The AP faced a firestorm in the blogosphere with reactions ranging from scorn to fury to ridicule. Even the Washington Post said that the AP has started a battle it cannot possibly win.

Now, the AP has set up a tollbooth on its site and is trying to charge bloggers if they use even 5 words of an AP story. Teresa Nielsen Hayden weighs in:
The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an "attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt." I suggest it's better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with with a system of private law (the very definition of the word "privilege") in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be.
The AP has really blown it this time. It's a PR nightmare: the service is being mocked all over the Internet and intellectual property attorneys are baffled that they think they can literally rewrite well-established copyright laws just because they don't want anyone to quote them, even with proper sourcing and a link. Michael Arrington of Techcrunch sums up his new policy on the AP: it's banned from the site.
So here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they don't exist. We don't see them, we don't quote them, we don't link to them. They're banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.
In other words: You're Dead to Me. Amen, Brother Arrington.