Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Auto-replace and derivative works

Apparently some subscribers to AP's news feeds use auto-replace on the stories for ideological reasons before publishing them, for example changing "Democratic Party" to "Democrat Party." This is dangerous when the automatic substitutions convert "gay" to "homosexual." Well, dangerous or hilarious. Visual evidence here. But I had to wonder whether these changes violated the American Family Association's contract with AP. I couldn't find a public version of AP's contract, but given the history of AP wires and their dissemination to multiple news outlets, I imagine that some modifications are allowed. Independent of the contract, I doubt that auto-replace creates a derivative work, because the automatic nature of the changes lacks the necessary creativity. Is it too much to analogize to Judge Kozinski's pink-screener?

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