Monday, June 30, 2008

Propaganda: sauce for the goose edition

Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch, writes in The A.P. Has Violated My Copyright, And I Demand Justice:

As far as I can tell, the Associated Press is sticking by its ridiculous and unlawful assertion that "direct quotations, even short ones" are copyright infringements and result in lawsuit threats and DMCA takedown notices.

… [N]ow the A.P. has gone too far. They've quoted twenty-two words from one of our posts, in clear violation of their warped interpretation of copyright law. …

Am I being ridiculous? Absolutely. But the point is to illustrate that the A.P. is taking an absurd and indefensible position, too. So I've called my lawyers (really) and have asked them to deliver a DMCA takedown demand to the A.P. And I will also be sending them a bill for $12.50 with that letter, which is exactly what the A.P. would have charged me if I published a 22 word quote from one of their articles.

(I should probably note that I mean "propaganda" as a neutral term. Arrington's move is concededly not meant to assert actual legal rights, but rather to point out that the A.P. itself depends on the system of free quotation for news purposes. The move to claim rights over tiny quotes--and even the response that such use is fair use rather than not even rising to the level of copyright infringement--is dangerous for reasons Justin Hughes explores in Size Counts (or Should) in Copyright Law, 75 FORDHAM LAW REVIEW 575 (2005). I do wonder whether Arrington's lawyers can ethically file such a DMCA notice, under either the DMCA or general principles governing lawyers' conduct.)

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