The Associated Press wants to charge bloggers a per-word rate to excerpt any of their content. Obviously this is the dumbest thing they could’ve possibly done, considering the traffic from clicking back the links benefits them & you can’t copyright straight-up news coverage (some have suggested that, due to this, their action is effectively an unintentional admission that their content is biased). They’ll learn, maybe the hard way, but they’ll learn.
Many bloggers, in reaction to a slight so obvious that I’ve witnessed the hell-freezes-over moment of radical libertarians AND mainstream liberals and even the far-right all being pissed off over the exact same thing, are already springing into action. Some are boycotting them, others are simply excerpting & yanking the link so they get no traffic from it, and some — Kos, for example — are excerpting as usual and openly DARING the AP to sue. However, in the course of reading on this I thought of the following:
- Their stated policy says they only charge for more than 5 words. At the same time…
So…what happens if you go the old-school movie ransom note route, take excerpts of 4 words or less from multiple articles & use the words & letters to spell out an insult to them?
Technically since they only charge once you hit 5 words from one article, they’ve already established they consider less than that to not be “use” as they interpret it. Imagine their reaction if there were a mass posting where everyone took random bits of AP articles & remixed ’em into Fuck You posts, making it so the AP couldn’t react without destroying their argument. You used 4 words or less for each, so they can’t charge you, and if they bark about the criticism that changes it from them trying to unilaterally redefine Fair Use to outright silencing critique — which makes the anti-AP view so simple that even the least net-savvy people out there can run with it. When faced with a “choice” of either stretching the rules so hard that any judge not on crack would laugh in their faces or spreading the scorn to the general populace, they’ll crack.
It’s highly ironic that the Associated Press is doing this in the first place, considering what their role to the MSM is. Those of us with the resources, thanks to modern technology, are actually capable of scooping them on many stories, and shining light on things that the MSM won’t take seriously — or in many cases cover at all. The AP functions in principle as a news gopher for aggregate sites & newspapers that don’t feel like spending the time or money to actually do their own reporting. In the long run, we could make them entirely irrelevant, and probably will anyway. My recommendation to them in the meantime would be to enjoy their relevance while they still have it, rather than hasten its end.