HotHardware told you yesterday about the Associated Press' hardline approach to linking to their news service stories and excerpting their copy. AP seems a little sketchy about the way in which the doctrine of Fair Use is generally understood on the Internet. As if in an attempt to double down on what is fast becoming a public relations debacle for the news service, AP has a web form for bloggers to use when referring to AP news stories, and it's comedy gold. AP wants to charge you $12.50 to excerpt five words from their articles.
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.
Perhaps we can offer some unsolicited advice to the AP. The future of news dissemination is the Internet. Your revenue stream from print will dry up. News gathering organizations will still be important because online aggregators of news and opinion need raw material -- your product. These aggregators act not as copyright infringers, but as your unpaid ambassadors, pointing their audience towards your product instead of the product of your competitors. These aggregators will cease using your service and seek alternatives because you annoy and threaten them. These alternative services will make more money than the AP because their traffic will exceed yours, and they will be able to monetize this traffic. You will not get your $12.50, or anything else, from readers that go to alternate news sites. Your children will not get, as Billy Ray Valentine once observed, their GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip for Christmas. Happy now?