The AP, through an agreement with iCopyright, a copyright protection service provider, is offering licenses for its online content in chunks of 5-25 words ($12.50), 26-50 words ($17.50), 51-100 words ($25.00), 101-250 words ($50.00), and 251 words and up for $100.
Most of the licenses iCopyright handles for AP are free for a certain number of copies using an ad-supported model, and excerpting was one of 20 services iCopyright has built since signing up AP as a customer in April, according to Mike O'Donnell, president and CEO of Seattle-based iCopyright.
The excerpting service is AP's response to the trend of individuals excerpting large amounts of content, often for commercial purposes, said O'Donnell. "When you take the meat and central theme of the story to support a commercial product, that's sort of crossing the line of fair use," he said.
Michael Kwun, senior intellectual property staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, believes the AP will have a tough time with its online content licensing efforts.
"It seems pretty far-fetched that a five word excerpt from a news story could require licensing. I'd be hard pressed to see how that wouldn't qualify as fair use," said Kwun, who until last week oversaw Google's litigation efforts, which included defending the search giant from a copyright lawsuit from Viacom.
The ability for bloggers to take a piece of news and put their own spin on it is important fuel for the blogosphere, says Alan Shimel, chief strategy officer at StillSecure, Superior, Colo., and author of a blog that focuses on security industry issues.
"It's kind of like a jazz musician playing a riff on top of someone else's bass line," Shimel said.
Last week, the AP sent a series of nastygrams to the satirical blog Drudge Retort, instructing the site to take down all excerpts of AP articles of between 33 and 79 words in length. The AP later relented, and on Thursday will meet with officials from the Media Bloggers Association to discuss hammering out clearer terms for re-use of copyrighted content.
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