"In the name of "defin[ing] clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt" the Associated Press is now selling "quotation licenses" that allow bloggers, journallers, and people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. The licensing system exhorts you to snitch on people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in reward money (they also think that "fair use" -- the right to copy without permission -- means "Contact the owner of the work to be sure you are covered under fair use.").
It gets better! If you pay to quote the AP, but you offend the AP in so doing, the AP "reserves the right to terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher's reputation."
Over on Making Light, Patrick Nielsen Hayden nails it:The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt.” I suggest it’s better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with with a system of private law (the very definition of the word “privilege”) in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be. See also Virgin Media claiming the right to dictate to private citizens in Britain how they’re allowed to configure their home routers, or the new copyright bill being introduced in Canada, under which the international entertainment industry, rather than democratically-accountable representatives of the Canadian people, will get to define what does and doesn’t amount to proscribed “circumvention.” Hey, why have laws? Let’s just ask established businesses what kinds of behaviors they find inconvenient, and then send the police around to shut those behaviors down. Imagine the effort we’ll save."
I hope Cory and Mr Hayden don't mind me quoting such a large part of their posts. ;-) Jeremy at IPKat is, as you might expect, slightly more measured:
"As an active part of both the blogging community and the IP community, the IPKat is understandably concerned. Neither the Berne Convention or TRIPs, nor indeed any other international instrument of copyright law provide for a blanket "bloggers' right" to make use of protected materials for ephemeral purposes or for subsequent archiving -- and it is optimistic to hope for any such blanket use to be explicitly sanctioned. But blogging has to make a responsible use of all materials. The IPKat welcomes debate on this topic and wonders what his readers think. Merpel asks, there aren't any collecting societies out there, offering easy licences to use materials for blogging purposes, are there?"
Update: David Bollier's take on this is well worth a read at On the Commons, which I notice has had a facelift since my last visit.