The AP and the "charging $12.50 to quote five words" meme
By Ryan Chittum
As I wrote last week, bloggers have repeatedly pumped the story that the AP charges us to quote its stories. Problem is, that story's just false and has been so since the meme first arose two years ago.
So how did this zombie lie come to be and why can't we put it to rest?
Danny Sullivan pointed out in comments that the AP has a somewhat-confusing copyright-licensing scheme (a third party service called iCopyright) linked at the bottom of each story. But that's no excuse for savvy blogs like techdirt and TechCrunch to repeat what they know to be nonsense. Techdirt's Mike Masnick said this in comments:
Sure the AP says it won't charge, but it has threatened bloggers with lawsuits, and it hasn't changed the iCopyright form. The reason that we keep pointing it out is to highlight the blatant hypocrisy of the AP's position.
lawsuits takedown notices aren't related to the charging-for-quotes story.
The AP sent Rogers Cadenhead (who also comments on my original post) takedown notices after his users put up several whole AP stories on Drudge Retort, along with snippets of several other ones. Cadenhead didn't dispute the first group, but said the second was fair use. He got a lawyer, the fight went viral, a guy who came to Cadenhead's aid got wrongly mauled by a blog lynch mob, and the AP quickly apologized for being "heavy-handed" in the dustup.
During the midst of this, a blogger spotted the iCopyright thing and started the "Associated Press wants to charge you $12.50 to quote five words from them" meme.
What is iCopyright? It's a third-party company that sells licenses for commercial use of copyrighted material. "Commercial use" being the key words herelike when a company buys reprints of a favorable story about it to use in its own marketing. The iCopyright site, alas, isn't exactly clear on who should pay for a license and why.
So the AP went on the record when this story first blew up two years ago saying iCopyright is not aimed at bloggers. And then it issued an official statement in August 2009 after another fake blog controversy was stirred upthis time over the false idea that the dastardly AP was going to try to prevent people from linking to its stories. Again, it said the iCopyright form was not for bloggers.
The irony here is that by making hay and getting pageviews out of this false controversy, the bloggers perpetuating this stuff are creating more of a chilling effect on the quoting of AP material than the iCopyright boilerplate itself ever would have, linked as it is in tiny type at the bottom of the wire's stories.