Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Associated Press Protects Its Copyrighted Materials

So let me get this straight. If, as a book publicist, I use an Associated Press headline in its entirety in a media kit for one of my clients, or I incorporate more than four words from an Associated Press story, I'll have to pay Associated Press for the right to do so.

That sounds fair.

According to a BNET Media story -- even though BNET isn't owned by Associated Press, I'm still a bit frightened to let you know the name of the story, so I'll just link to it here -- Associated Press is working overtime to guard its copyrighted material. They don't want their material to be used in blogs, press releases including, obviously, online press kits), or to be transmitted via cell phones, and they're trying to mandate that we all use technology that will rat us out to AP if we violate its copyright.

Well, all right. I'm perfectly comfortable with defending oneself against plagiarism everyone in the publishing industry is trying to do the same thing, so we can't blame a news organization for feeling the way that we do about protecting what it creates), and if AP feels the need to lock down its copyright material, then fine. I'm behind them.

But what does make me scratch me head is -- four words of an article? A headline? It strikes me as strange to think that so few words, when appropriated (granted, the Associated Press's lawyers would say "misappropriated") by authors and publishers to incorporate into online materials that support a book promotion campaign, would be off limits.

Four words? A headline? Here's a promise. If you ever want to quote me in your blog or on your web site, and four words or a headline is all you want to borrow, feel free to do so. I won't sue you, and I won't think unkindly of you.

Associated Press? I'm not so sure what their intentions are. Would they really sue a teenager who, while blogging, cited the headline of an Associated Press story? I'd be sorry to think so, but I suppose nothing should surprise us anymore. The online world is new, and I suppose we'll all experience a few growing pains as we get used to the new rules.

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