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The Associated Press, which is currently threatening legal action against bloggers who quote excerpts of AP stories, has been caught extensively quoting from a blog without permission.
The copyright doctrine of fair use is generally lenient in allowing works to be quoted or reproduced for news and commentary purposes. Yet earlier this year, the Associated Press forced the website SnappedShot to take down various AP photos which had been posted for the purpose of criticism. Brian C. Ledbetter, who runs SnappedShot, believed he was well within his fair use rights, but he lacked the resources to fight the media powerhouse.
And within the last week, it came to light that AP lawyers threatened the proprietor of another blog for posting excerpts of AP articles. Considering that none of the excerpts posted were longer than 79 words, the AP’s stance seemed extreme to many, and the incident led to a lot of outrage online.
So it is odd timing, then, that just yesterday the Associated Press published a story lifting content from a blog without permission:
In a news item about the e-mail from Judge Kozinski’s wife that I posted on this site, an AP article lifted numerous passages.
I counted 154 words quoted from my post. That’s almost twice the number of words contained in the most extensive quotation in the Drudge Retort.
So am I going to be an ass and threaten to charge them, or sue them, or demand that they remove the quotes? Of course not. They benefited from my content and I benefited from their link.
Just like when the Drudge Retort quoted them.
And I’m going to go on quoting AP stories, within fair use guidelines.
And if they start threatening me, I’ll have to remind them that they did the same to me.
This isn’t the first time the Associated Press has been busted for taking content without permission from online sources.
It seems that fair use rights are only afforded to those with enough resources to defend those rights in court.