Commentary

Drudge Retort: AP Guidelines Will Spark 'Napster-Style Battle'

The Associated Press issued a statement late last night that it considered a copyright dispute with liberal blog Drudge Retort "closed," but the organization's problems with new media are anything but over.

"I don't think the news service will be able to concede any ground to the blogosphere," reports Drudge Retort founder Rogers Cadenhead on his blog. "Asking the company to concede there's a way people can share this information for free is like asking the RIAA to pick its favorite file-sharing client."

The AP last week demanded that Cadenhead, who launched Drudge Retort 10 years ago as a parody of the conservative Drudge Report, remove seven posts that excerpted wire service stories. None of the excerpts were longer than 80 words and all were at least arguably a fair use of the AP's material.

Cadenhead deleted the posts, but the AP also apparently indicated it was willing to back off. The wire service told The New York Times it would release a new, presumably blogosphere-friendlier set of guidelines.

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Some well-known bloggers immediately objected to the AP presuming to decide what constitutes copyright infringement, when fair use requires a case-by-case analysis that defies easy guidelines. "The A.P. doesn't get to make its own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows," wrote Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.

Now that a preliminary version of those guidelines has been floated, such reactions seem even more justified.

"If AP's guidelines end up like the ones they shared with me we're headed for a Napster-style battle on the issue of fair use," writes Cadenhead.

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