I talked to a reporter this week about the embattled Associated Press and said three times that I didn’t want it to die. I might take that back.

The AP has filed truly noxious takedown notices against Rogers Cadenhead’s community-created Drudge Retort, arguing copyright violations for quotes from 33 to 79 words long.

For shame, AP.

An example from Cadenhead:

Here’s one of the six disputed blog entries:

Clinton Expects Race to End Next Week

Hillary Rodham Clinton says she expects her marathon Democratic race against Barack Obama to be resolved next week, as superdelegates decide who is the stronger candidate in the fall. “I think that after the final primaries, people are going to start making up their minds,” she said. “I think that is the natural progression that one would expect.”

If you follow the link, you’ll see that the blog entry reproduces 18 words from the story and a 32-word quote by Hillary Clinton under a user-written headline. The blog entry drew 108 comments in the ensuing discussion.

This complaint comes from an organization that leaches off original reporting and kills links and credit to the source of that journalism. Yes, it has a right to reproduce reporting from member news organizations. But as I point out here, the AP is hurting original reporting by not crediting and linking to the journalism at its source. We should be operating under an ethic of the link to original reporting; this is an ethic that the AP systematically violates.

What would be better for journalism would be for aggregators — Daylife (where I am a partner), Inform, Google News, Pro Publica — to link directly to original reporting without rewriting it through its mill. That is what is happening in Ohio, where newspapers are now sharing original stories. If the AP doesn’t watch out, that is what could happen everywhere.

I have also objected to the AP doing a deal with Google that put Google in the content business, hurting the AP’s members and other sources of journalism. We should want Google to link to original reporting. But the AP insisted on Google licensing its content.

In its complaint against Cadenhead, the AP is flouting fair use and fair comment. It is ignoring the essential structure of the link architecture of the web. It is declaring war on blogs and commenters.

So let’s fire back. I urge bloggers everywhere to go to the AP and reproduce a story at length in solidarity with Cadenhead and Drudge Retort. Here‘s mine:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — The Cedar River poured over its banks here Thursday, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 homes, causing a railroad bridge to collapse and leaving cars underwater on downtown streets.

Officials estimated that 100 blocks were underwater in Cedar Rapids, where several days of preparation could not hold back the rain-swollen river. Rescuers had to use boats to reach many stranded residents, and people could be seen dragging suitcases up closed highway exit ramps to escape the water.

“We’re just kind of at God’s mercy right now, so hopefully people that never prayed before this, it might be a good time to start,” Linn County Sheriff Don Zeller said. “We’re going to need a lot of prayers and people are going to need a lot of patience and understanding.”

About 3,200 homes were evacuated and some 8,000 residents displaced, officials estimated….

That’s just the homogenized AP version of the news.

Here’s original journalism: a story from Gazette Online and another; aerial photos; users‘ photos (not the property of the AP, I’ll bet). A look at the Gazette’s home page:

Picture 19

Who needs the AP tapioca when we can get reporting like this from the source wtih no more than a link? Isn’t it a better service to reader and journalist to link directly to the original reporting?

So, bloggers, unless the AP recants and apologizes to Cadenhead, I urge you to avoid linking to the AP and to link to reporting at its source.

  • One thing I like about GoogleNews: it shows me the source of the article before I click into it.

    Something I would like better about GoogleNews: let me filter the news down to the sources I trust. Don’t like the AP? Filter it out as a source. If you go to the Advanced Search, I can filter to a news source, but I can’t filter one (or more) out. Why not?

  • Bravo! F the AP!

    We’re dumping our AP subscription because they’ve largely abandoned Alaska and we don’t need national/international news. The product they offer is regurgitated press releases from public safety offices and other organizations. Hell, we can do that. Plus they tend to be way late with stuff. And the product is a nationalized format that lacks local color / flavor (I know why they do this, but it’s not an effective style for serving our local audience).

    Of course, due to their draconian contract terms, it will take us forever to get out of the deal. We want to like the AP, but can’t. And then these kooky self-preservation actions? Nuts.

    By the way, bravo to the news outlets in Ohio. There’s a project afoot amongst western public radio stations that’s sort of similar as well. The world is learning to network and the economics are shifting. AP just doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore.

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    • Then why didn’t AP send Roger an email with your guidelines for what you
      consider fair use of your stories and begin a dialogue with him.

  • @Brett you can do exactly that kind of source filtering at NewsCred by simply clicking the logos of the sources you trust. We’ve found that hardly anyone chooses the AP when they personalize the site. What does that say? Full disclosure: I’m the cofounder of NewsCred.

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  • Jeff, in response to your post, allow me — on behalf of AP — to fill in some facts and also reassure you and others in the blogosphere about our view of these situations. First off, yes, we are trying to protect our intellectual property online, as most news and content creators are around the world. But our interests in that regard extend only to instances that go beyond brief references and direct links to our coverage.

    As you well know, we encourage the engagement of bloggers, large and small, in the news conversation of the day. Some of the largest blogs are licensed to display AP stories in full on a regular basis. We genuinely value and encourage referring links to our coverage and even offer RSS feeds from http://www.ap.org, as do many of our licensed customers.

    We get concerned when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste. That’s not good for original content creators; nor is it consistent with the link-based culture of the Internet that you and others have cultivated so well.

    In this particular case, we have had direct and helpful communication with the site in question, focusing only on these issues.

    So, let’s be clear: Bloggers are an indispensable part of the new ecosystem, as you and I have discussed many times, but your call for widespread reproduction of wholesale stories is out of synch with that environment. There are many ways to inspire conversation about the news without misappropriating the content of original creators, whether they are the AP or fellow bloggers.

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  • Jim,

    Then why didn’t AP send Roger an email with your guidelines for what you
    consider fair use of your stories and begin a dialogue with him.

    When you send a take down notice, it also can mean that many comments on the post are lost. It also inspires a backlash like this.

  • Jim Kennedy, I find it ironic that you claim AP feels concerned when bloggers “are encouraged to cut and paste,” yet you left almost the exact same comment on BuzzMachine here and a related article on The Industry Standard (see the link to my name). Why is cutting and pasting a 260-word comment in multiple locations on the ‘Net OK for AP, but a blogger using a 33-word excerpt is verboten?

    Here’s another question for you: Dozens of blogs excerpt the ledes of AP stories every day (do a search in Google Blog search for “AP -” followed by a date). Some are commenting on or highlighting important issues, others are scrapers attempting to make money on AdSense, affiliate programs, and other scams. Are you going to file DMCA takedowns with all of them, too?

    Ian Lamont
    Managing Editor
    The Industry Standard

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  • Well he didn’t say where the link leads. I always try to ad a credit. AP via Yahoo. Via this Via that via the other. Maybe that’s the beef here. Not the link or the quote but the lack of credit.

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  • frankyT


    I cannot express the sadness i feel at seeing this issue unfold. I am afraid I can no longer support or respect your organization. Your use of unjust tenants of an unjust law, shows clearly that your primary motivation is greed and control. This is not acceptable from a news agency, and will color every peice I will ever read here out. I will be constantly questioning your facts since you are obviously for sale. you cannot be unbiased if you desire complete control of distribution.

    I’m sorry if that seems unfair to you, but any use of the DMCA, for any purpose, is immoral, unethical, and should be illegal. Information needs to be free if we are to be free. you have damaged my freedom, and I will never forgive you for it.

  • So, let me see if I understand what Jim is writing: go ahead and excerpt, but do not overdo it (such as C&Ping most, or all, of a story), and make sure you are commenting on it, or doing it for a purpose.

    So, if we were just going “here’s a cool article,” and slap up a bunch of paragraphs, the AP would say “no!” But, if we were commenting on it, acting more like analysts and commentators, that would be OK. Otherwise, we are just stealing material for gain, such as the scumbags who hijack our feeds.

    A website called Snapped Shot was cited for all the photo’s he had, which the AP deemed theft, because they were not being commented on themselves, just put up with stories. If he had been commenting on the content of the photo, that would be OK.

    Am I on target, Jim?

    I can understand how the AP and other sources want to protect the work they do to get the stories, but, I hope they do not push too far. Because then the majority of their employees will be lawyers, rather then reporters.

  • frankyT


    why is it that every page on your site (www.ap.org) has the term “Freedom of Information” on it (in fact FOI is a folder in which half your pages exist), when you quite clearly have no understanding of the term.

    you should be ashamed for your hippocracy.

  • Dan

    Yeah. We should be able to steal all the words we want from the AP. Fuckk those guys, who actually put time, effort and sweat into covering a story like this. Fuckk those guys.

  • Bill Enator

    Kennedy Said: “The Associated Press encourages the engagement of bloggers — large and small — in the news conversation of the day. Some of the largest blogs are licensed to display AP stories in full on a regular basis. We genuinely value and encourage referring links to our coverage, and even offer RSS feeds from http://www.ap.org, as do many of our licensed customers.”

    I think the unsaid meaning here is bloggers are free to particpate in the news conversation of the day as long as you pay the AP.

    It’s pretty clear from recent lawsuits (AP vs Moreover, AP vs All Headline News etc) that the Associated Press feels entitled to own the news. The AP has enjoyed a monopoly for probably much too long I fear.

    The facts of the news are in the Public Domain the facts of the news are Publici juris and no business may own the rights to fact not even the AP.

    It is also clear that the AP has made the “Strategic” decision to use the faulty and nebulous doctrine of Hot News misappropriation as web 2.0, the internet and modern communications threaten their very existence.

  • @Dan (June 13th, 2008 at 9:19 pm): You’ve said it better than I did. Indeed.

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  • I have been in the newspaper business nearly 30 years. During a time period I was a photo editor. We were frequently compelled (threats were sometimes involved) to provide photos to AP even though we knew our pictures would be hi-jacked by competitor newspapers in violation of our specified outs. We complained often to AP about this and were told that while this was regrettable, there was nothing AP could do. Making things worse, the hi-jacking papers always credited the photos to AP. But there wasn’t any room for us to complain on that score because AP always removes the actual source from photos and replaces it with AP. Who was hi-jacking content then? We complained often about that and were basically told: Tough, you can’t stop us.

    I have ZERO sympathy for AP on this. But even if they weren’t complete hypocrites, I would still think them idiots for taking this stance. Taking the RIAA business model is the opposite of a recipe for success. It demonstrates the old-media desire for control that is killing newspapers and most other traditional broadcast industries. Wake up and smell the internet you stupid old farts.

    While it might be regrettable if the AP were shuttered (at least in terms of info dissemination) I think the world would struggle on. As Jeff points out, the fabulous interweb has just the pipes for all sorts of distribution. And should the AP fail more than a few might say: It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of guys.

  • Sans

    “This complaint comes from an organization that leaches off original reporting and kills links and credit to the source of that journalism.”

    Er…. no. That’s who the complaint has been lodged against.

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  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Jeff Jaris, et al.
    RE: I Remember….

    …..the late ’70s when Reuters was the primary source of information used by 313 Military Intelligence Battalion, 82d Airborne Division, because we couldn’t get good information through the chain of command.


    ….Reuters, AP, APF, etc., etc., etc. and most especially the NYT are agents of the enemy; all lies and jest.

    I say, “Death! Death to AP and NYT!” May their assets be seized and sold. May their staffs and owners responsible for the fabrications and disclosures of national security information be brought to trial and, if found guilty, given harsh sentences.



  • memomachine


    1. Does the AP ever credit bloggers for their original stories taken by the AP?

    2. Perhaps a revisit of the Sherman Act is due.

  • Homonym National Socialist

    I agree except you said “leaches” instead of “leeches”

    1. To remove soluble or other constituents from by the action of a percolating liquid.
    2. To empty; drain: “a world leached of pleasure, voided of meaning” (Marilynne Robinson).

    1. Any of various chiefly aquatic bloodsucking or carnivorous annelid worms of the class Hirudinea, of which one species (Hirudo medicinalis) was formerly used by physicians to bleed patients and is now sometimes used as a temporary aid to circulation during surgical reattachment of a body part.
    2. One that preys on or clings to another; a parasite.
    3. Archaic A physician.

  • Rather than reacting with a boycott, people should be warned that they may have legal problems if they use anything associated with AP.

    My site will not participate in a boycott. I am simply banning the use of anything that can be traced to AP because it may cost me time and money.

    The boycott will fade. And AP knows that. But a widespread non-use of AP concern over legal issues will not.

    Warning – Using anything related to AP may result in legal problems for you. Link to http://www.cadenhead.org/workbench/news/3368/ap-files-7-dmca-takedowns-against-drudge

  • crosspatch

    Last time I looked, http://www.upi.com still worked.

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  • Even when the right side prevails, these kinds of unjust lawsuits are huge sinkholes for time, money, and happy thoughts. (Sadly, I speak from experience.)

    So to hell with AP. If they don’t want traffic by discussion and linking, they won’t get it from me! (I’m removing their headlines from “My Yahoo” now…)

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  • Jim Kennedy, maybe you should clamp down of sharing in services like Google Reader first.

    There are so many ways to get all AP content without ever visiting a member of the consortium, you should be thankful for what little link love you get.

    It is also wise not to use the same comment on multiple blog posts.

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  • James Wray

    I have to say bloggers can be terrible for pasting whole articles…whether from the AP, Reuters, BBC or even our own site.

    I don’t mind a couple of paragraphs and a link but anything more is just lazy and parasitic.

    Someone said what is the difference between Jim Kennedy pasting his response to multiple blogs and a blogger pasting AP content…well I would hope that would be obvious…

    I reckon if the AP come back and say no more than 100 words and a link and write your own headline. Also I really think blogs should be adding some of their own comment or additional content, I know many do but many also just auto post from RSS feeds.

    So imho not as one-sided as it first appears and not just an issue for the AP but for any original content producer often quoted by blogs.

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  • good for the AP.. besides you should know better by now! I’m sick of bloggers copying and repurposing news and articles from hard working writers and analysts etc…

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  • I’m not surprised Associated Press calls the issue “Hot News Misappropriation,” because it would be next to impossible to claim “harm” from copyright infringement by someone quoting selectively and linking to already-published articles.

    But while it’s a stronger claim, “Hot News Misappropriation” could be very difficult to prove in the case of selective quoting and linking. This concept applies most strongly “before” news hits the public realm, or at least simultaneously with publication. That’s when the news has the most value, because stealing it at that point CAN cause harm. Imagine stealing a reporter’s story and printing it before it hits the press. Or linking to it in the seconds and minutes (not hours) after the story is distributed by AP. That’s Hot News Misappropriation, as has already been defined in the courts.

  • Oh fer chrissake. Now they’ve called a meeting… with Robert Cox of MBA. We’re all screwed now!

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  • OK, please link to this article, reading the article is NOT why I am asking you to do this. Go to the bottom and link to the blue copyright link.

    What do you think of that? Pretty darn detailed COSTLY policy!

    Be careful though, according to the new policy, there are limits to how long you can link to an article for free.

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  • Karen A. Davis

    Forgive me for being behind on commenting here. I’m not sure anyone will even take notice at this point. However, I ran across this blog today and, as a former AP San Francisco staff member, I feel the need to lend my support. The people and bureaus of the AP I was a member of in 2001 exhibited the highest level of integrity in news reporting. The goal was to get the news out not only as quickly, but also as accurately as possible. This is no small task when one considers how many stories AP has broken ahead of other news media, as well as the number of Pulitzer Prizes and other awards its journalists and photogs have earned. As Ghandi once said, “

    To Jim Kennedy, kudos for trying to explain the importance of crediting intellectual property to these obviously stunted individuals who would, no doubt, be angry if someone swiped something they wrote and excerpted them without proper acknowledgment.

    To John Proffitt:
    You said, “We’re dumping our AP subscription because they’ve largely abandoned Alaska and we don’t need national/international news.” Since when does every American in every town in every state regardless of size NOT need to know national or international news?!? Oh, wait. That’s right. The governor the majority of people in your state elected considers being able to see Russia from her front porch acceptable foreign policy experience that qualifies her to be vice president. Guess that explains that head up your a** comment.

    To Steve Rhodes:
    You said, “Then why didn’t AP send Roger an email with your guidelines for what you
    consider fair use of your stories and begin a dialogue with him.”
    How do you know that they didn’t try this avenue before filing? Even if they didn’t, sometimes you have to make an example of someone who is taking advantage of you in an effort to discourage others from doing the same.

    To Ian Lamont:
    Duh. Get a dictionary and look up the following words: comment and excerpt. No, wait. That might confuse you. Let me just spell it out for you.
    The comment that Kennedy cut and pasted onto several different blogs was a response written by himself in his own words. Therefore, (duh again), he wasn’t quoting anyone else’s excerpt and didn’t have to offer credit.

    And finally, to frankyT:
    Learn to spell and to capitalize the pronoun “I” (among many, many other things) and then maybe someone will take you seriously. I would say that is doing more damage to your freedom than the AP issue. (And “unjust tenants?” Ha ha. Ummm, it’s tenets.)

    I could go on putting you in your place, but it’s probably a monumental waste of my time. People who cannot rationally explain why they stand a certain way on a particular issue usually can’t be reasoned with and made to see that they are at least partially wrong. So keep following your own nose and try not to bump into anymore walls while your eyes are closed.

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  • Rob

    Dear Associated Press:

    Ma Vaffanculo.

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  • There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.cheers.