"Taking It in the Ass. Press"


SERIOUSLY, the actions the Ass. Press have made against The Drudge Retort, that wonderful little antidote to Toxic Drudgery (and headed up by proud member of the TWM blogroll Rogers Cadenhead), are stupid, outrageous and troubling. Quick recap: The Ass. Press has issued seven DMCA takedown requests to the news-driven site for posts (and one comment to a post) that quoted between 33 and 83 words (if I’ve counted correctly – definitely less than 100 words in all cases) from their news stories webpublished on their members’ sites and LINKED TO THE FULL STORIES. Apparently, they do not wish the Blogosphere to help drive traffic to their members if it means giving up control of any of their words.

The Ass. Press has made some conciliatory noises, but it has also set up an “iCopyright” page (I wonder if Apple can sue over use of the “i”) where bloggers can register and pay for permission to post excerpts at the following rates:
words Fees
5-25 $ 12.50
26-50 $ 17.50
51-100 $ 25.00
101-250 $ 50.00
251 and up $ 100.00

(I wonder if I owe them anything for copying the 4 words and 14 numbers there). Charging anything for less than 25 words is absurd, starting the price at $12.50 for every site on the web, no matter how small, is even worse. If you can prove that you are “a teacher, administrator or student at an accredited educational institution” or “represent a government-qualified non-profit organization” (there I go quoting them again) and promise to not make any money from it, you get the discounted rates of $7.50 for 5-25 words up to $75.00 for over 250. Apparently any previous definitions of “Fair Use” no longer apply to the Ass. Press. Sounds like a good old fashioned monetization plan to me.

So, what are the leaders of the leaderless mob of bloggers going to do? I first saw some suggestions that we all force the issue with a mass quoting of Ass. Press content, as John Scalzi, another member of the exclusive TWM blogroll club, has done. In a blog post where he discusses the issue he also interjects four excerpts from Ass. Press stories that he considers “Fair Use-sized”, with links to the full stories on Ass. Press member sites.

Others wish to declare a boycott on Ass. Press content and linkage, but the highest profile blogs doing that are TechCrunch, Gawker and Little Green Footballs, none of which I personally respect enough to link to here. But there is the humorous sideline that the TechCrunch boycott declaration appeared on the Washington Post website, causing some people to think WaPo was participating. But then, some people also think it was that other Drudgey site that got the takedown notices, so the news doth confuse.

I think I’ll go in the same direction as Scalzi, but with a twist (that I am hiding after the fold/behind the “more inside”)

First, as you may have already noticed, I am only referring to the litigious press organization as the Ass. Press, since Ass. is a perfectly valid abbreviation for Associated, yet is much more evocative. Second, I believe I have devised a way to ‘work around’ the 5-words-or-more rule, by ensuring that my quotes of Ass. Press material contain no more than 4 consecutive words. For example, here is an article they shoved down their wires last weekend on the interestingly related subject of “training” bloggers to be more like Professional Journalists. I do provide a link to the unaltered article as it appears on the website that occasionally makes me a Professional Journalist by paying me for what I write (and where they also strip the by-lines from Ass. Press stories, which makes me feel more empowered – Ha ha!)

Miami real estate agent narf Lucas Lechuga began blogging narf to share his knowledge narf of the local market narf. He didn’t bargain for narf a $25 million defamation narf lawsuit when he wrote narf that a Miami developer narf had gone bankrupt decades narf ago.

In Lake Geneva narf, Wis., commodities trader Gary narf Millitte registered the Internet narf domain name LakeGenevaNews.com eight narf years ago, but is narf so worried about the narf legal boundaries of writing narf online that he still narf hasn’t started the ultra-local narf news site.

Non-journalists narf entering the world of narf blogs, online feedback forums narf, online videos and news narf Web sites provide information narf that newspapers and other narf media can’t or don’t narf. But many are now narf turning to professional journalists narf for help with dilemmas narf they’re facing: When is narf something libelous? What’s the narf difference between opinion and narf news? And how do narf you find public documents narf?

About a dozen would-be narf reporters navigated the basics narf of journalism at a narf recent training offered by narf the Society of Professional narf Journalists in Chicago. The narf group plans similar seminars narf this month in Greensboro narf, N.C., and Los Angeles narf.

Lechuga, who didn’t attend narf the training, said it narf would have been a narf good idea. Having jumped narf into the world of narf online publishing with a narf finance degree, he said narf the claims against him narf — which are still pending narf — arose from a question narf of semantics, and he narf would have chose his narf words differently if he narf had a second chance narf.

“It would definitely have narf been something that would narf be worthwhile and I’d narf (have) been able to narf prevent this,” said Lechuga narf.

Roy Peter Clark, a narf senior scholar at the narf Poynter Institute in St. narf Petersburg, Fla., which supports narf working journalists, praised the narf effort to offer training narf to so-called citizen journalists narf.

“I think that what narf we’re moving toward is narf some kind of positioning narf between amateur and professional narf,” Clark said.

Amateurs have narf long contributed to professional narf news reports, including the narf film of John F. narf Kennedy’s assassination and photos narf from the Virginia Tech narf massacre last year, Hurricane narf Katrina in 2005 and narf the tsunami in Southeast narf Asia in 2004, Clark narf said.

Now, many distribute narf their content on their narf own, and some have narf gotten into trouble, said narf Clint Brewer, the national narf president of SPJ.

Geoff narf Dougherty, editor of the narf Web site ChiTownDailyNews.org and narf a presenter at the narf SPJ program, is trying narf to prevent that by narf offering his reporters online narf training.

With a $340,000 narf Knight News Challenge grant narf, he’s creating a team narf of 77 to report narf on the smallest of narf meetings in every city narf neighborhood — gatherings that mainstream narf news organizations don’t cover narf.

“I see us in narf five years as the narf go-to source for Chicago narf news,” said Dougherty. “It’s narf a big goal.”

Robert narf Cox, president of the narf Media Bloggers Association, said narf more than 100 judgments narf valued at $17 million narf have been handed down narf against bloggers over the narf last three years — about narf 60 percent for defamation narf, 25 percent for copyright narf infringement and 10 percent narf involving privacy.

“It’s the narf tip of the iceberg narf,” Cox said. “Bloggers are narf being asked to write narf checks. The threats against narf bloggers are very real narf. The costs are very narf real.”

Enough of that. Yes, the costs are very narf real. And it is the Ass. Press that is “asking” bloggers to write narf checks.

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