AP to meet with bloggers today

NEW YORK: The Associated Press (AP) was scheduled to meet today with a leading bloggers' organization in the wake of a controversy over use of its content in blogs.

NEW YORK: The Associated Press (AP) was scheduled to meet today with a leading bloggers' organization in the wake of controversy over use of its content in blogs.

Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, said the AP will continue a dialogue with bloggers after meeting with the Media Bloggers Association.

“[The meeting will be] part of an ongoing process, which we think will be positive, and this is just one part of it,” he said. “We have good relationships [with bloggers], and we hope to keep it that way, and this will be one part of the process going forward.”

Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, said that his goals for the discussion are to settle the AP's dispute with the Drudge Retort, an interactive news and opinion page, as well as to reach an understanding of what the AP feels is acceptable blogger use of its content.

“There is a balance here, and bloggers clearly have a right to link and to excerpt and to comment, and the AP has some legitimate copyright interests,” he said. “Bloggers should understand that, too, because we are content producers as well.”

The AP sent a legal notice this month to Rogers Cadenhead, administrator of the Drudge Retort, asking him to remove seven 39-to-79-word postings that the nonprofit said was an improper use of its stories, according to Cadenhead. The Drudge Retort is a social news site originally set up as a left-leaning foil to the popular conservative-leaning Drudge Report news aggregator.

The notice fueled outrage from bloggers, including the influential TechCrunch blog, where co-editor Michael Arrington banned AP stories on June 16. Arrington and co-editor Erick Schonfeld did not return e-mails seeking comment.

Cadenhead said he was “guardedly optimistic” about the MBA's meeting with the AP, hoping for guidelines suitable for bloggers.

“If the AP does produce something substantive here, it will let thousands of bloggers know how to responsibly handle these stories…and most of use can't rely on legal muscle to try to get through the court system,” he said. “So we are looking for guidelines, and since there's a symbiotic relationship between blogs and the news media, a lot of people would embrace that.”

The AP is not as reliant as other organizations on online advertising sales, but it charges news companies for content while bloggers use it for free, noted Ellyn Angelotti, interactivity editor and adjunct faculty at the Poynter Institute.

“[The AP is] not really selling ads on its own Web site, and they're not getting the benefit from it as other news sites would,” she said. “I think that their rationale [in sending notice to the Drudge Retort] is that news organizations are paying for their content…and bloggers are officially producing content. [Bloggers] are maybe not The New York Times or a news organization in the traditional sense, but they are sharing news with the users. They are a content-delivery mechanism in the same way a news site would be.”

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