Rules of reproduction

There is quite a blogostorm (more like a tornado, as blogosphere controversies tend to be whirlingly circular) going on about the recent decision by Associated Press (AP), a major news aggregate and syndication service, to limit the amount of its material bloggers can reproduce — in some cases to less than 40 words, which is draconian. There is an article about the AP’s decision, and some reactions to it, here at the New York Times. An AP spokesman is quoted as stating that the organization is going to “challenge blog postings containing excerpts of A.P. articles “when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste.” “

The New York Times provides a helpful link to Blogrunner, so you can read the (predictable) reactions from around the blogs, ranging from reasonably informed to totally uninformed, and from rational to irrational. You can also see a hotly argued comment thread at Books, Inq.: The Epilogue, which is where I first learned about this story, together with a link to Instapundit’s “irony alert”, pointing out AP’s extensive quoting from blogs in its own coverage of the story it itself has generated.

Many bloggers seem to think they can make up their own rules about what they write. Of course, this is true so far as the law allows, and the law has a very long way to go before it catches up with the Internet, and in particular, with user-generated content on it. But it seems to me that bloggers can’t have it both ways: if bloggers want to be journalists and news-breakers, and be taken as seriously as some of them take themselves, they also have to be sensible of how they came by the information they wish to broadcast. Terms and conditions apply.