The DMCA copyright battle between the Associated Press and the Drudge Retort took place two years ago, but Woot CEO Matt Rutledge remembered it in a blog post this week.

Rutledge noticed that when AP covered the sale of his company to Amazon.Com, it quoted from his blog.

The AP, we can't thank you enough for looking our way. You see, when we showed off our good news on Wednesday afternoon, we expected we'd get a little bit of attention. But when we found your little newsy thing you do, we couldn't help but notice something important. And that something is this: you printed our web content in your article! The web content that came from our blog! Why, isn't that the very thing you've previously told nu-media bloggers they’re not supposed to do?

So, The AP, here we are. Just to be fair about this, we’ve used your very own pricing scheme to calculate how much you owe us. By looking through the link above, and comparing your post with our original letter, we've figured you owe us roughly $17.50 for the content you borrowed from our blog post, which, by the way, we worked very very hard to create. ...

We're major digital players now. Don't force us to pass this matter to a collection agency.

In response to Rutledge's mockery, I can only say woot!

Two years ago, when the AP was taking a massive barrage of criticism over using the DMCA to squash the free speech rights of blogs and social news sites, the wire service told Saul Hansell of the New York Times that it was going to produce fair use guidelines for bloggers.

The Associated Press, one of the nation's largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.'s copyright.

AP never produced those guidelines. My gut feeling at the time was that AP would wait for the issue to blow over and forget it made that promise, because the company sells headline-and-lead syndication packages around the world. Telling people they might possibly be able to quote its stories without getting sued undercuts its business.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

> My gut feeling at the time was that AP would wait for the issue to blow over and forget it made that promise ...

Wouldn't it make more (corporate) sense that any such guidelines got bogged down from disagreements between finance types, lawyers, editors, and any other factions in AP? I think it would be a reasoning error to postulate a scheming monolith here, versus various departments wanting different things and nobody able to produce something they could all live with.

And you *know* what would happen to anything they released -

AP: "Today ..."

Bloggers - What's "Today", you priest dinosaurs! The Internet is international, so "day" doesn't have the same timezones for everyone, get it, you old thinkers! And suppose I sleep in morning and am awake all night, what's a day mean then, it's a NEW ERA! By the way, we checked the meta-data of the document, and it was created 48 hours ago, so you're lying, gotcha! ...


 

Wouldn't it make more (corporate) sense that any such guidelines got bogged down from disagreements between finance types, lawyers, editors, and any other factions in AP?

That makes a lot of sense.

When I was engaged in that controversy and communicating with people at AP, I got the sense that there was a culture clash between the new media types -- who understood the benefits of being quoted and linked vs. the costs of not being linked at all -- and the old school types who liked their 1980s business model just fine the way it was.

I reached out several times to people at AP to help them on the issue, because I was more sympathetic to them than many other bloggers and had declined to join the calls for a boycott. But nothing ever came of it.

One thing AP could do to help its cause is to expose a web API that lets social news sites like the Retort and Digg check programmatically if a new user submission raises copyright concerns. AP already has software that does this that's used internally.