Thursday, June 19, 2008

Does the Associated Press need to learn about fair use?

The few visitors to this blog who actually visit the site, as opposed to reading it via a reader, may notice I have added a new small banner in the side bar under the section for "Causes, Events & Miscellaneous." It is a link to a campaign to boycott the Associated Press. Recently, the AP has come out with cease and desist letters to bloggers which basically overlook and ignore the basic concept of fair use. You can read about the story in various places. Here is the take from Terry Heaton at The PoMo Blog. For me, what did it were the words of Michael Arrington, author of TechCrunch, who is boycotting the AP as well. Here is what he said:

"The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it’s clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don’t exist today and that they are not legally entitled to."

I think it is time that we take a stand for things like the doctrine of fair use. Not just because I want to link to a news story now and then (usually to go along with my snark). But fair use is applicable to academic research, creative endeavors, etc. It seems that certain corporate folks are taking it upon themselves to try to scare people so as to rewrite the law. And personally, I think it shameful that some maverick lawyer has not sued them back to put them in their place. Anyhow, this little blog is nowhere near the fame or reach of the many other bloggers out there concerned over this, but the last thing I want is some bully letter from the AP because I linked to one of their stories to poke fun at current events or just write a little commentary. So, until the AP gets a clue, I will be trying to link elsewhere. AP, only if it is absolutely unavoidable, which, given this blog, I can pretty much avoid them. Anyhow, go read up on this and learn a bit more.

Update note: (same day): Mark Glaser at MediaShift, a nice blog that often discusses issue of digital media pretty well, has a good summary of the issue. It does bring in a nice balance. For me, the issue is one I think about, not only as a blogger, but also as a librarian who often has to teach students about fair use, crediting sources, and avoiding plagiarism.

Update note (8/11/11): I went ahead and removed the banner from the sidebar as it seems the site has been neglected, and somewhat overrun by spam. However, it does not change what I have said about fair use and our need to keep testing limits and stand up for fair use.And I have not seen or heard AP has relented, so I will continue to avoid them as much as I can.


The.Effing.Librarian said...

I'm not boycotting the AP, I'm just ignoring their claims. but I do expect that some time in the future we will start citing sources in our blog post in footnotes and not just linking. for "fair use" to be fair, we should be required to do a little more work.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Hmm, interesting. I have seen some talk around the blogosphere of citing ethics. Personally, I try to give as much info as possible when I link to someone or something (author name, if given, title of the blog, or title of the source with date). Kind of trying to set a good example. Having said that, I don't suffer bullies lightly, and right now, they seem to be behaving not much better than the RIAA or the MPAA.

Glad you stopped by. Best, and keep on blogging.