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Drudge Retort’s Retort To AP: Personal Issue Resolved But ‘Larger Conflict’ Remains

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imageRogers Cadenhead, the tech author who runs the Drudge Retort, agrees with the Associated Press that the legal dispute that started when the wire service objected to his site’s use of its news reports is over but doesn’t see an easy end to the overarching issue of how news is shared online. Predictably, Cadenhead’s response, posted Friday morning, is quite a bit longer than the AP’s terse statement posted here Thursday night. He will not reveal details of his conversation with AP attorneys until the news co-op publishes its official guidelines. Some excerpts from his post:

— “I’m glad that my personal legal dispute with the AP is resolved, thanks to the help of the Media Bloggers Association, but it does nothing to resolve the larger conflict between how AP interprets fair use and how thousands of people are sharing news on the web. You could probably guess that by the lack of detail in AP’s statement.”

— “On a social news site that’s still manageable in size, like the 8,500-member Drudge Retort, it’s possible to steer bloggers away from potential conflicts with media organizations by working directly with users. But 25 million people visited a social news site last month, and thousands of people are sharing news links in a way that’s in direct conflict with AP’s interpretation of fair use regarding the headlines and leads of its articles. If AP’s guidelines end up like the ones they shared with me, we’re headed for a Napster-style battle on the issue of fair use.”

— “I think AP and other media organizations should focus on how to encourage bloggers to link their stories in the manner they like, rather than hoping their lawyers can rebottle the genie of social news. Given the publicity of this dispute, the first blogger sued for excerpting a news story will have the best pro bono legal representation that massive press attention can buy. Although AP will be releasing guidelines, I don’t think the news service will be able to concede any ground to the blogosphere. AP sells headline and lead-only services to customers. Asking the company to concede there’s a way people can share this information for free is like asking the RIAA to pick its favorite file-sharing client“.

Update: Robert Cox from the Media Bloggers Association adds: “Rogers took the position that if AP was reasonable in their guidance, he would be willing to consider minor changes that while not perfectly satisfactory to both sides were close enough that both sides could stand down while the posts themselves went back up.”

Also, AP’s coverage.