Copyright and blogging: AP, the Drudge Retort and the "bloggers' right"

Yesterday's Guardian picked up this item from Jemima Kiss concerning a furore over the decision of US news agency Associated Press (AP) to issue a takedown notice to a small, independent news site which, it claims, had quoted too heavily from its news stories. AP is reported as alleging that six instances of copyright infringement occurred on Drudge Retort – a leftwing comment site set up as an alternative to the Drudge Report – including one post that pasted 18 words from a story on Hillary Clinton followed by a 32-word direct quote. This, AP said,
"... does not fall within the parameters of fair use. ... The use is not fair use simply because the work copied happened to be a news article and that the use is of the headline and the first few sentences only".
Drudge Retort founder Rogers Cadenhead, argued that sharing links to news stories of interest has "become an essential part of how millions of people read and evaluate the news today". AP is understood to have suspended further attempts to challenge bloggers until it can review its guidelines but adds:
"Cutting and pasting a lot of content into a blog is not what we want to see. It is more consistent with the spirit of the internet to link to content so people can read the whole thing in context".
As an active part of both the blogging community and the IP community, the IPKat is understandably concerned. Neither the Berne Convention or TRIPs, nor indeed any other international instrument of copyright law provide for a blanket "bloggers' right" to make use of protected materials for ephemeral purposes or for subsequent archiving -- and it is optimistic to hope for any such blanket use to be explicitly sanctioned. But blogging has to make a responsible use of all materials. The IPKat welcomes debate on this topic and wonders what his readers think. Merpel asks, there aren't any collecting societies out there, offering easy licences to use materials for blogging purposes, are there?
Copyright and blogging: AP, the Drudge Retort and the "bloggers' right" Copyright and blogging: AP, the Drudge Retort and the "bloggers' right" Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. If you have a comma after 'Cadenhead', you need one before 'Rogers' as well. Otherwise you're cutting the subject off from the verb, which is inhumane.

  2. Do I sense double standards from the IPKat?

    This seems an appropriate moment for a quote, "The IPKat... can understand both points of view, but cannot see how downloading (or making available) other people's copyright material... without payment can be realistically defended, when the law is quite clear on the matter. People... are knowingly infringing copyright, and should not therefore be surprised or outraged when they are told that they should not be doing it."

    Ok, so this issue may not be quite such a clear point of law - with "fair dealing" taken into account. Nevertheless, the kernel of the problem is the same.

  3. The kernel of the problem is the same only if you think that fair use doesn't exist.

    AP does appear to admit that fair use exists - it's just limited to quotations of four words or less.

  4. Our old copyright conventions and laws do not guide the extensive "quotation" to which the Web so easily lends itself. The problem is much more acute for images than for texts: for images, the argument that quotation needs context is often less decisive. For texts, it does not help to limit the number of words that might be freely quoted, thus restricting context even more. Invoking "fair use" or a "bloggers' right" - better called a "privilege" - merely slaps a label on the problem. Ultimately, practice will decide. One can't stop massive usage.


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