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:
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.