Oh, well then allow me to (Drudge) Retort
Something happened today that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: both tech-focused Techmeme and politics- and news-centric Memeorandum lead with the same story (Here’s Our New Policy On A.P. Stories: They’re Banned, by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch).
So it seems that the backlash against the Associated Press’ DMCA takedown requests, directed at the Drudge Retort, is not going to end anytime soon. On Friday, I briefly noted that, “If this case is given any headway at all, the entire nature of how information is shared on the Internet will need to change radically.” And I hope the assumption is there that it’s not radically in a good way.
Arrington, certainly never hesitant to pull any punches, strongly argues that Drudge Retort is using content and linking along the same lines as any other standard social media platform, such as Digg or Techmeme, and says that the AP should be thankful for when websites link to their stories at all.
Further, TechCrunch is not waiting for a forthcoming AP announcement (in which new guidelines for how bloggers should link to their stories will be clarified) and is preemptively banning the Associated Press entirely “until they abandon this new strategy.”
Mathew Ingram provides background and perspective, noting that while the AP is talking backtrack-and-reconciliation, they’ve not retracted their case against the Drudge Retort, “a community news blog that is about as far from a commercial media entity as you can get.”
Meanwhile, RexBlog has some helpful explanation about what is fair use, which basically boils down to: it’s okay to link, it’s okay to excerpt within reason, it’s okay to summarize, you should provide some form of attribution, it’s not okay to fully reproduce stories without permission.
Also highly recommended reading: Bloggasm contacted Drudge Retort publisher Rogers Cadenhead, who provides some interesting and revealing details, including the particular word counts at issue in the DMCA takedown requests:
But in this instance the seven takedowns filed by the Associated Press were for quoted excerpts ranging from 33 to 79 words â€” what most publishers would consider fair use. Five of the six posts in question contained user-created headlines. Every single one of them provided links to the legally-published AP content.
â€œIn each one, the quoted text from an AP story was minimal,â€ Cadenhead told me in a phone interview. â€œIt was like 30 to 70 words. This is so common around the web that it was completely shocking to get these takedowns for such a small amount of material.â€
What remains unclear to me is what the AP was trying to accomplish with its original takedown requests. Clearly they didn’t foresee the blogospheric buzz saw that awaited, so it can be assumed that they are not on a mission to irrevocably alter the rules and standards for linking and sharing information that have emerged organically over the last decade.
Now the Associated Press is backtracking but is perhaps continuing to start more fires than it is able to extinguish. And it remains to be seen whether or not TechCrunch’s (and BuzzMachine’s) ban of AP stories have a significant impact on this evolving story.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the AP winds up pulling the takedown notices at the same time it issues its new policy guidelines. That will help them to an extent, but unless the guidelines are reasonable and fall into the norm of how stories are covered and shared and commented upon â€“ and not just by the blogosphere, by the way, but by all online publications â€“ the Associated Press will have a long-term and difficult problem on its hands within the online realm.