All blogosphere eyes are on the Associated Press now as it tries to draw up a policy guide that, at best, will serve as the standard laws for the mainstream media-blogger relationship, or, at worst, build up even more animosity between the so-called establishment press and the citizen journalism brigade.
Last week, the AP stirred up trouble when it dispatched a legal notice to the news aggregation site Drudge Retort that called for the removal of content it said violated AP copyright. [Interesting that it didn’t go after a more prominent blog, but that’s beside the point.]
Has the mainstream media declared war on blogs? I wouldn’t call a very public legal threat followed by a very public retreat much of a battle, and that’s exactly what happened.
Kudos to the AP for admitting that it was “heavy-handed” in its first approach, as its VP of content put it. Hopefully it will come up with a reasonable standard for allowing discussion, commentary and, yes, criticism of its content. But that won’t be easy and attempts like this pricing scale published by the AP before it sparked the recent legal flap are destined to be universally lambasted and/or ignored.
The N.Y. Times pointed out this week the tenuous nature of “fair use,” the “essential concept” embraced by bloggers for sampling news content. Interpretation of fair use will be the crux of any guidelines drawn up, but as the U.S. Copyright Office even admits: “The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined.”