The AP is spoiling for a fight it can’t win. It started last week when the news organization took exception with the linking and excerpting practices at the Drudge Retort (not the Drudge Report), a liberal social news site run by longtime blogger Rogers Cadenhead. You can see some examples of the posts the AP wanted taken down here, but basically the posts contained nothing unusual: a headline and a fairly short snippet from the actual article. No surprise: the move prompted a major blog-borne blowback.
Following that, AP VP Jim Kennedy told the NYT that it regretted its “heavy-handed” approach to the Drudge Retort and that it would “rethink” its attitude towards bloggers. Ok. But from there the AP’s goals are pretty unclear. Jeff Jarvis characterizes the AP’s back-and-forth stance as a “policy ping-pong game”. Kennedy says they don’t want to sue bloggers, but they’re not withdrawing their take-down demands. He says they don’t want to cast a pall over the blogosphere but that they want blogs to use short summaries, rather than even short quotations. Basically it comes down to this: the AP doesn’t want blogs to convey the news in the article; it wants readers to go to the article. The next step: developing guidelines for blog linking and summarizing. Apparently it plans to meet with the Media Bloggers Association, but if it thinks that group somehow represents or holds sway over a lot of bloggers, it will be sorely mistaken.
The AP’s ambivalent attitude was clear when I interviewed AP CEO Tom Curley last year. While talking up the web 2.0 ethos of free-floating content, he also balked at what some would consider fair use: “If you want our content, we expect to be paid for it