The AP–which profits by organizations paying license fees for its stories–is defining its policy on how to deal with the legions of bloggers that use large quotes of their articles when summarizing their stories.
While reproduction of full articles (oops …) is rarely necessary for commentary, quotes are surely needed to promote the open discussion, free media, and flow of information that the Fair Use Exception is designed to promote and is crucial to a democracy (just look at the effect bloggers have had on closed nations by spreading information).
Everyday Andrew sums up the best news articles about the campaign on his Newsweek blog: (i.e. http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/stumper/archive/2008/06/17/the-filter-june-17-2008.aspx). Will similar summaries be permitted under the new AP policy? It sounds like the answer is no — a link alone will be allowed — to avoid taking quotes out of context. Will personal archiving be permitted (there is a case dealing with Xeroxing that suggests that the Fair Use doctrine does not extend to archiving)?
Of course, no matter what the AP’s ultimate policy, the looming question will be how will the AP enforce its policy and prevent infringement? By sending cease and desist letters to each individual blogger that quotes a bit too much of an article? By only pursuing the commercial bloggers? By using technology? (i.e technology that detects searches blogs for quotes and sends cease and desist letters)? By suing the large blog providers to take down or block sites that infringe on the AP’s articles? Lets hope the AP takes their time in crafting its policies, considers the dangers of curbing the free flow of information, and avoids the pitfalls of the RIAA (in policing the reproduction of music and movies by attacking college students and other individuals).
Either way, I have an easy solution. No Quotes. No Links. Just lots of paraphrasing. Its like 7th grade English class all over again.