Dear Associated Press, you’re dead to me

I’m officially boycotting the Associated Press.

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

Please do not forward me links to AP stories. There are plenty of other news outlets that cover the same exact stories from the same exact angles. But most of those news outlets aren’t bat shit stupid about the 21st century.

Why am I so angry? The AP just said fuck you to Fair Use. They just said fuck you to America. They just said fuck you to each and every one of us.

AP wants to charge people for taking excerpts as small as 5 words from its stories. 5 words?!?! I can understand asking for compensation if people lifted large passages of your work or the work in its entirety but for 5 words?

This is such an incredibly 20th century policy. People linking to AP stories is good for the AP. It sends traffic to their content.

The symbiosis that bloggers and media outlets have enjoyed over the past 10 years has been beneficial to all. In exchange for taking excerpts of content (which is permissible under Fair Use), bloggers link back to the original source. That way if people are interested in the topic, they can read more about it, which makes money for the original media outlet.

Patrick Nielsen’s analysis is spot on:

The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt.” I suggest it’s better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with with a system of private law (the very definition of the word “privilege”) in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be.

You see what I did there? I took an excerpt of his post, and, in exchange, I linked to the original post (which you should all check out). I’m going to send his post a lot of traffic, which will make him and Making Light more money.

Heck, that’s why it is called the World Wide WEB. It’s a WEB of interconnected information. Can you imagine a world in which merely excerpting small amounts of information will result in you owing at least $12.50? Or $100?

This whole episode also has massive ramifications for free speech as Cory Doctorow points out (which the AP claims to like):

Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish.

The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it.

Bloggers, citizens and people who believe in the rule of law should band together and pledge to boycott the AP, unless they drop this ridiculous policy.