Fail: AP has granted us a license to quote Voltaire

James Grimmelman posted earlier today that AP granted him a license to quote Thomas Jefferson as part of an exercise to prove the stupidity of AP’s attempts to crack down on copyright by charging those who use more than five words in an AP article.

I’m not American so I’m not that familiar with the writings of Jefferson, however there is one quote I do like to use, and that’s the quote attributed to Voltaire (wrongly as the case may be, but besides the point here.) The line also one of the best lines ever written about censorship:

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.*

Voltaire died in 1778, and the quote is believed to have been delivered by Betrice Hall of the Friends of Voltaire in 1906; either way the quote is in the public domain.

So why, like Grimmelman with his Jefferson quote, did AP happily license the Voltaire quote to me? See the picture above for proof. They’ve also charged $12.50 to my credit card.

Grimmelman writes that “The AP has no right to stop me, no right to demand money from me.” I’d actually go further by calling this what it is: a scam. AP seeks to make money off the words of history, mocking copyright laws for its own greed. It’s a shame there’s not a BBB for News Wire services, because we’d at least have someone to complain to.

* note on the quote: there’s a couple of different variations on the theme for the quote. That’s not the exact wording I knew, but was one version commonly found on Google.