OK, so I know I’ve been all over the Marburger thing and completely ignored the whole AP thing. In short, the AP announced a new tool they think is going to protect their stories from copyright infringement and piracy:
The microformat will essentially encapsulate AP and member content in an informational “wrapper” that includes a digital permissions framework that lets publishers specify how their content is to be used online and which also supplies the critical information needed to track and monitor its usage.
The registry also will enable content owners and publishers to more effectively manage and control digital use of their content, by providing detailed metrics on content consumption, payment services and enforcement support. It will support a variety of payment models, including pay walls.
It’d be really cool if their system actually made it any more difficult to illegally use content. They didn’t seem to have a very good idea of what this system was really about. Not to cater to the word crowd, they also included this ridiculous graphic of the system that has been mocked everywhere.
I honestly don’t understand the AP’s DRM thing all that well (that graphic alone boggled my mind), but I do know it isn’t a solution to what might not even really be a problem and it makes them look pretty dumb for touting it so much. I’ll let the experts tell you about it instead:
- DRM for news? Inside the AP’s plan to “wrap” its content – Ars Technica – The AP seemed to believe it was launching some awesome software that protected its work from all manner of copying. Ars Technica and others say, “Not really.” Yet another misunderstanding of copyright and technology from my friends in Old News
- Associated Press claims to have discovered magic anti-news-copying beans – Boing Boing – And more on the AP’s misstatements about it’s new DRM content management system drawing ire from bloggers. The mock graphic is especially head-shaking.
- Is There Really A ‘Piracy’ Problem For Newspapers? | Techdirt – Techdirt – who has had some of the best analysis of this debate – nails it. Is it really a copyright problem at all? Or is this just the last-ditch effort by big content producers to level the playing field without innovating?
What’s more disconcerting about the AP and it’s quest to protect its content is the motive behind it – which does interest me a great deal.
In a New York Times article about their copyright quest, AP President Tom Curley seemed to be even crazier about use of their content than what the Marburger plan suggests:
Tom Curley, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, said the company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. In an interview, he specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, news aggregators and blogs.
Yes, the AP wants you to have a license even to link to their content, let alone quote it or use it in any way. If you aren’t familiar with the Fair Use Doctrine – you probably wouldn’t know how much this violates the spirit behind it. Pat Thornton had a few thoughts on this – more importantly, if the AP even acknowledges the existence of Fair Use when it comes to their content. It is a new age, but so far, headlines and links have been considered Fair Use.
But what is Fair Use in the digital age? Should the law be re-examined for the culture of the Internet? I think so – at least to lay out those word-of-mouth rules that vary from site to site about content use.
C.W. Anderson has a few great ideas outlined for the revamp of Fair Use for the web that the likes of the Marburgers and the AP should take seriously. You should read it, but here’s a recap:
- Where you link to the original story and how you link to it matters. Link early and often – and give credit where it is due.
- Consider if the site appropriating the content is adding a comment function when the originator of the content did not.This is an added value on their site that only leads to more discussion and reading of the original story.
- What is the balance between the value added by the appropriating site and the amount of original content used?
- What is the purpose of the site using the content?
Are these issues sticky? Of course – but at least he’s asking the right questions. A lot of copyright law, particularly Fair Use, is about evaluating use of content to make sure we’re sharing without giving away the farm. It’s about the open marketplace of ideas (again) – and online, that ideal is more important than ever.