Posted June 16, 2008 9:15 am by with 29 comments

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If you happen to have a life outside of the internet, you likely missed the blogstorm this weekend over the Associated Press’s attempts to force the Drudge Retort to stop quoting AP stories–it even sent a cease and desist letter to the blog.

Well, how do you think the blogosphere reacted to that? Yep, you guessed it. Just about everyone, who’s not AP, went on the attack, accusing the AP of being out of its mind and trying to re-define the legal definition of “fair use.”

Now, it would have been different, if the AP was trying to stop a blogger from scraping all of its news articles, but we’re talking about seven items, with quotes less than 80 words!

The NYT reports the AP is backtracking, but only so that it can re-group, take a breather and then try again to prevent bloggers from quoting its articles.

“We don’t want to cast a pall over the blogosphere by being heavy-handed, so we have to figure out a better and more positive way to do this,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy said the company was going to meet with representatives of the Media Bloggers Association, a trade group, and others. He said he hopes that these discussions can all occur this week so that guidelines can be released soon.

That’s all well and good, but in the meantime, many bloggers are taking their own action against the Associated Press. Over at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington has declared a ban on AP…

So here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist. We don’t see them, we don’t quote them, we don’t link to them. They’re banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

Which certainly has me thinking about how Marketing Pilgrim should respond.

Should we abide by any new guidelines issued by the AP? Should we continue to quote the AP, using our own interpretation of what is “fair use” not AP’s? Or, like TechCrunch, should we jump on the “ban” wagon and never quote AP again?

What do you think we should do?

  • Ban AP. They need to be sent a message that if they want to evolve and compete on the new global media then they need to redefine their interpretation of fair use.

    Further more, why aren’t they going after the feed scrappers? Why? because that would require real effort and tenacity. Both of which they and their old school media colleagues have little compared to the bloggers that quote them.

    Joe Hall’s last blog post..RE/MAX is the most searched for Real Estate company on the internet.

  • Andy,

    Keep quoting them as long as you feel that you are abiding by actual fair use guidelines. Honestly, I am pretty amazed at how the AP has approached this. Isn’t it best for them to be picked up by everyone (of course making sure that when picked up they are given their “props”) so that they are seen as a definitive / go-to source for news? Seems silly to me.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Small Biz Online Reputation Monitoring (ORM) – Are You Aware of What is Being Said About You Today?

  • This is quite interesting. I would assume that quoting the AP would also link back to the original article. If so, wouldn’t AP be benefitting with the increased traffic? I wonder if no one at AP looked at their stats to verify this. Even if this only drove a few visitors, if you multiple by the hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, the traffic wouldn’t be insignificant. I think they will probably backtrack on this policy when they suddenly see a drop in traffic.

    As for your question, I wouldn’t ban AP quotes as long as you are abiding by the fair use guidelines. It provides your users with useful information when relevant. Not to do so would impact us. And isn’t that more important than banning some words?

    Csalomonlee’s last blog post..The Role of SEO in PR

  • MegBurns

    Hello, AP, and welcome to 2008… bloggers quoting your stories and linking back to your site is the only way people are reading your stories in general these days. You should be saying THANK YOU to bloggers for keeping you in business!

  • Guys, I think AP does get the whole backlink thing, they probably just don’t care. Unlike most of us, AP probably does quite well on backlinks.

    Why is it doing this? Likely because it wants to sell bloggers a license to use AP content–that’s worth more than any backlink. 😉

  • Jim

    I think it’s good for AP to sue techcrunch.

  • If it’s something that may hurt your business and it goes against what you feel is “right”, you have to ban them – IMO. Too many people don’t stand up for what they believe is right

    If you think they may have some merit to their argument and that they truly are getting the raw end of the deal, you might want to consider keeping things as is (or complying with their wants) until the issue gets resolved.

  • On this golf playoff day, I would give AP a mulligan on this one…the amount of bad press they’re getting on this topic is punishment that fits the crime. Give them a chance to reconsider their stance & hopefully backpeddle.

  • We agree with Todd – the punishment certainly fits the crime. Perhaps they will learn from this mishap and evolve a bit.

    Seach Engine Optimiation Journal’s last blog post..Search Engine Optimization And CSS

  • Jimbo

    I remember reading “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life” by Kaavya Viswanathan, over news press. She can’t write and pass Harvard. Later, she dropped out.

    As for today, I’m happy how AP handle works professionally. It is time for AP journalists to seriously and attack Grammar Nazi for stealing without quoting. Most bloggers don’t pay license fee.

    I feel sorry for Michael Arrington. Because he can’t write like other Tech journalists. He copied AP journalists works. He claim he got articles first.

    Nice try…Better sign Petition. Because AP have best and brightest lawyers to sue Techcrunch.

  • When AP finds itself banned by a million or so bloggers, they will have nobody to blame but their own greed for power.

  • PS3

    I’d be interested to know who would win the day if this goes the full way through the courts.

  • Quoting other sources lead to downshifting of your post in search engines, so this technic is not too popular.

    Symbian’s last blog post..Nokia S60 Symbian Windows Live client available in Europe

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  • There are two important considerations here:

    1. A “ban” by hundreds or thousands of bloggers is only going to result in considerably MORE coverage and exposure for the AP by the thousands of other bloggers and more “mainstream” media that will cover the issue.

    2. The AP will learn (or remember) that the Internet is a two-way conversation between the publisher and the reader. Newspapers, TV and radio don’t have feedback or trackback mechanisms so the old way doesn’t work online.

    The AP is getting dinged by this backlash and will hopefully evolve and adapt their policies.

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  • D&G

    Definitely ban them. With no blogger linking to them, they will see their rankings go down, and loose all the direct traffic.
    I wonder how fast they will give in when that happens.
    Dependence can be a bitch, and Search engine traffic a crack house…

    D&G’s last blog post..San Francisco billboards

  • If associated press want to be rude, the same can apply in reverse. Boycott their articles, and see them come grovelling after a few months!

  • Deja vu! In 1996, I received an email from an AP bigwig demanding that I remove the two AP stories I posted on my U2 web site. I removed them, and decided at that moment to never post another AP story on the site again. 12 years later, that ban is still in effect.

    Andy – I’d ban them until they come to their senses. There are plenty of other news sites/sources out there.

    Matt McGee’s last blog post..Another Week of Blogging

  • Please ban them. I am really fed up with big companies trying to put the power on smaller market-players. Sending their armada of attorneys to some blogger is really bad style and they should pay for it.
    Of course they want to build up a new market and want to have money from bloggers. But that only shows that they dont understand the internet at all.

  • The whole thing here is to trash Fair Use and replace it with soemthing that they (AP) can control. By creating the ruckus, they can now offer a small crumb to the poor bloggers that is neither Fair or Useful.

    Just say NO to anything but Fair Use!

  • They forgot how the get huge visitors and marketing… is from those Blogs and other kind of sites…

  • Just like when a celebrity slaps his own fan.

    AP should be punished for that, no matter how good the celebrity is.

    Asif Anwar’s last blog post..13 Prophecies of Internet Marketing – The Near & Far Future of Online Marketing

  • I think they forget how much impact us bloggers have. I say you should ban them.

  • AP might be getting too big for its boots. High time it realised that no one can monitor the net like this. If they continue in the same vein poeple will learn to do without them. They are quite depensable.

    Eva White’s last blog post..Canada’s Apology To The Indian People

  • The best way for AP to restrain people from quoting them is not to have a site at all.

    If they go on suing bloggers like that, then what will happen to their reputation?

    Asif Anwar’s last blog post..13 Prophecies of Internet Marketing – The Near & Far Future of Online Marketing

  • Saw the FAIL! pic and it reminded me of one of the best blogs there are out there:

    Seologia’s last blog post..Obtené un record Guinness con Mozilla Firefox 3

  • JT

    Ban them, absolutely ban their stories, don’t link to them at all. It’s by far the best revenge.

    Any story they write, if you really want to you can research yourself based on their lead.

  • I agree JT, Ban them. Has anything heard anything since this post was first created, have AP seen the light yet.