Monday, August 03, 2009

If you quote yourself, do you have to pay the AP?

We blogged in a recent post about the Associated Press and their attempt to restrict their articles from being linked to or appearing in search results.

The Associated Press is now selling "quotation licenses" that allow bloggers and, I guess, people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. They are also encouraging you to turn in people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in blood money. Incidentally, they also reserve the right to "terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher's reputation."

James Grimmelmann over at The Laboratorium points out that the Associated Press has become so deranged, so disconnected from reality, that it will sell you a “license” to quote words it didn’t write and doesn’t own. Witness:

He paid $12 for that “license" and those words don’t even come from the article they charged him 46 cents a word to quote from (and that’s with the educational discount). The quote is from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Isaac McPherson, in which Jefferson argues that copyright has no basis in natural law. (oh, the irony!)

Posting in Making Light, Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:
"Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish."

"Welcome to a world in which you won’t own any of your technology or your music or your books, because ensuring that someone makes their profit margins will justify depriving you of the even the most basic, commonsensical rights in your personal, hand-level household goods."

"The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind."
I have no idea how the AP thinks this will end well for them. The AP itself says of itself on their site: "The Associated Press is the bastion of the people’s right to know around the world." Right. I guess I owe them $12.50 for that. Sue me.

1 comment:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden said...

As various people pointed out when AP first started pushing this plan, the Associated Press doesn't have the power to rewrite copyright and fair use laws on their own say-so. They can propose to charge for every use of AP materials, but that doesn't mean the courts will back them up if you decline to pay them for non-infringing instances of use.