18 June 2008

You Can't Say Seven Words on the Internet?????

I think the Associated Press has been hanging around the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for much too long now. The Sixth Circuit has by far the most restrictive view of fair use of any of the geographic circuits; I guess that the AP decided that five words is the same as three notes. Yes, there is a Sixth Circuit case holding that sampling three notes exceeded fair use. Further, the Sixth Circuit is the home of one of the few copyright-oriented "trade groups" with less honor than either Hollyweed or the record companies. Hint: It's in Nashville, and it purports to represent composers and songwriters. (I'm being eliptical to evade search engines.)

The AP has proposed that bloggers, and for that matter anyone else posting material on the 'net, need to pay for excessive quotation... for some value of excessive. Starting at five words. What part of "fair use" and "merger of content and expression" do they not understand? Well, that might be overstating things; I'm sure that the AP understands the distinction... it just figures that it's big enough to enforce its own view of what is appropriate. This should sound a great deal like the problem of "agency capture" I mentioned in yesterday's miscellany.

In any event, you may have noticed that I seldom quote from or link to AP material here anyway. Some of that is just differing viewpoints and focus; some of it is my disdain for most AP reports, particularly those not signed by an individual journalist. That disdain is not just for the poor quality of reporting — not to mention writing (paragraphs are not intended to consist of a single sentence) — but to the unaccountability and the inappropriate/unfair use of a superior bargaining position to screw the actual reporters... and provide those reporters very little incentive to get things right, to dig beneath the surface, to actually think about implications. So, in any event, you can expect to find even fewer acknowledgements of the AP's existence here in the future.