Friday, November 20, 2009

Actually, the AP likes fair use after all

At least when it's the AP doing the copying! TPM reports that an internal AP memo explains its fact-checking process on Sarah Palin's new book:
"The AP was determined to get the first copy," Oreskes [a senior managing editor] wrote, detailing how the writers learned a store had "inadvertently placed the book on sale five days before its official Nov. 17 release date." "They bought a copy, ripped it from its spine and scanned it into the system so it could be read and electronically searched," he wrote.
I do think this is fair use: it's an intermediate use with the ultimate product distributed to the public being a fair use, indeed a canonical fair use--quotation for purposes of critical review. (Albeit a scoop, a little reminiscent of Harper & Row v. Nation.) But it would behoove the AP to take note that a robust fair use doctrine is good for news reporting, given the AP's high-protectionist stance in other instances.


Joe in Australia said...

Surely this is not a reasonable intermediary use. They don't need to copy the entire book in order to quote it; they're copying it so that they can conduct searches. I can understand that they would like to be able to search an electronic copy of the book instead of getting their employees to read and mark-up a paper copy, but it's hardly necessary to the fair-use of quoting from it.

Incidentally, this electronic copying also means that they will never need to buy more than one copy of the book - or pay for storing a paper copy. And they won't buy an electronic edition of the book, because they already have one. So there's a financial issue as well.

Anonymous said...

IF more than one person used the scanned text at the same time, I'd question whether that is "fair use." And since reportedly they had something like 11 reporters on the story, it seems likely that more than one was reading it simultaneously. In other contexts, this would be called "piracy".

Scanning for the purpose of electronic searches is probably fair use.

Chris said...


If more than one person used the SAME scanned page at one time from different terminals, then I would question the fair use. If the 11 reporters each had a different page open, then there is little difference between that and tearing up a book and passing out the different chapters. No piracy necessary.