This article was originally published by WireTap.
June 28, 2008
Free Association is a new monthly column covering artistic rights, digital media and other open source issues by regular Wiretap contributor Larisa Mann.
If I were to fully comply with the Associated Press’ new license for quotations, I couldn’t write this article. Even if I paid them money for every quotation I used, this article is critical of the AP, which apparently they’ve decided is against their rules for quotation. Is this really the nonprofit news organization’s policy? Do you really have pay to quote AP articles and watch what you say about their content? How did bloggers and other writers, including myself, come to this conclusion?
The main clue is the AP’s published policy on the subject. One section of their license says that an individual cannot publish more than four words from AP-copyrighted material without paying; another section says that a user violates their license if they quote AP in a “derogatory” manner.
The policy reads:
“You shall not use the Content in any manner or context that will be in any way derogatory to the author, the publication from which the Content came, or any person connected with the creation of the Content or depicted in the Content. You agree not to use the Content in any manner or context that will be in any way derogatory to or damaging to the reputation of Publisher, its licensors, or any person connected with the creation of the Content or referenced in the Content.”
AP presents this license in its articles with the link “Reuse Options.” Nowhere does it say, for example, that the license is only for business uses. In fact, the license offers options for educational and nonprofit quotation uses at a reduced rate. But wait a minute… aren’t educational and nonprofit applications traditionally considered fair use under the US Copyright Act of 1976? Is the AP requiring a license for something that is legal anyway?
The license also provides options to use content online for free if you post a link and allow advertising. But if I wanted to write a media criticism book, including advertising would be impossible. Does that mean I have to pay for all quotations? Will media critics be hindered if they have to pay for every AP quote they use? (There goes Noam Chomsky‘s career!)
At best, it’s unclear who the AP expects to the use license, or what their legal justifications are. They seem to be throwing a lot of “choices” out there, with an implied legal threat if you don’t pick the right ones. They seem to hope that bloggers will buy into the license — otherwise, why threaten them for posting excerpts without it?