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The fair use debate

Written by Tyme White on June 16, 2008

This weekend TechDirt published an article about Associated Press (AP) sending Drudge Retort, a site that mocks Drudge Report, seven DMCA requests siting that the instances they specified in their DMCA requests were not fair use. In Cadenhead’s article he points out that one of the AP articles uses 18 words, a quote from Hillary Clinton, and links back to the originating article. Looking at Drudge Retort I found instances where almost 1/3 of the original article was used (non-AP content).

I was talking to someone online and I mentioned this situation. Their response was that they didn’t use AP articles so there was no need for concern. It didn’t cross their mind that Yahoo articles might be an AP article. One of the DMCA requests was for this article syndicated via Yahoo. This could cause a blurred sense of perception. A writer or blogger could be thinking “Yahoo is safe” when that doesn’t seem to be the case, does it? It’s not Yahoo’s content, it’s AP’s.

The bottom line is that there seems to be a disconnect on what is considered fair use. Content creators have different requirements on how their content should be used. Some writers do not mind if their articles are redistributed in full and on the flip side, others prefer permission be granted for any use but cannot get around fair use.

There are quite a few people talking about this. One cannot deny it does bring up the question, as writers, how our content should be used and just as important: how much outside content should be used on our sites.

Do you have clear policies in place on your site that lets people know how your content can be used?