Newspapers Last Stand: AP declares war on fair use, blogs

The Associated Press (AP) has declared war on news aggregators and bloggers, in what could be the last stand for the newspaper industry.

In a speech at the AP General Meeting, AP Chairman Dean Singleton told the audience that “We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more.” Singleton said that “AP and its member newspapers must be paid fully and fairly” where other sites quote AP content, including portals.

The “misguided legal theories” Singleton is referring to is fair use, an enshrined doctrine under US copyright law (see the Wikipedia entry here.) We also already know what AP defines as “misappropriation:” anything more than five words, which is the level they set when they went after blogs in June 2008.

Most of the attention is focused on Google News and similar sites; AP and newspapers are running the line that news aggregators steal from them. But what should be more concerning is how they’ll come after blogs as well.

Dean Singleton was interviewed by Paid Content here:

What about us? We get along fairly well with AP when it comes to using the news service in our own reports. We link to stories on member or client sites, usually with attribution and without wholesale quoting. We ask directly for artwork when there’s something we’d like to use in a news story, as was the case with the photo accompanying this post. So I was a little taken aback when I asked Singleton what would happen to sites like ours: “I’ll leave that to the rules of engagement that we’ll be developing” in coming weeks. Not “we’re not after sites like yours” or “we’re looking at flagrant violators.” And no sign at all that AP will be reaching out beyond its members for input.

Time for another AP content boycott, and we’d love to see Google strip AP content out of Google News as well; despite what Singleton claims, there’s actually a world of news outside of the AP and its members, but there’s only one way to prove it.