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now_what.jpgThe brouhaha over Associated Press creating rules about how and how much of its content bloggers can quote centers around the new realities of new media.
One of the ways bloggers build traffic and credibility is by linking to sources. Linking and the conversations it sparks between bloggers and readers is the life-blood of this medium. Sadly, mainstream media frequently quotes bloggers without attribution, let alone links. I’ve always thought that was because they’re afraid that they’ll send readers off their pages and we won’t come back.
There are economic realities inherent in that point of view. But I can tell you that the audience for this blog has grown, and advertisers have profited because I send my readers to other blogs and sources. That’s how trust is built online.
Much of the coverage of the issue has been more than a little hysterical – not to mention poorly researched and often distorted. But TechCrunch hits the nail on the head when it says:

“The game has changed a bit. Many bloggers now ‘break news’ which Associate Press and other mainstream media organizations can’t get a handle on. Our own site – TechCrunch – often breaks stories WAY ahead of the mainstream press. So, who is copying who here?
Most of the time you’ll find sites like us linking to major media sites if they break a story. But you won’t get a link back. So exactly, uh, what is their beef?”

Jeff Jarvis makes an intelligent proposal that AP adopt a link ethic; while Bob Cox of Media Bloggers Association (of which I am a member) notes that MBA has helped resolve many such cases.
To be clear: my content is ripped off the minute it’s posted by scrapers trying to get Google ad money. Screw them. Nobody reads them anyway. The bottom line there is that Google needs to zap those sites and until they do, that kind of theft won’t stop. But that’s another story.
What we’re talking about with AP is fair use, attribution, and linking. New standards are needed. And, like it or not, for that, AP and other MSM will need to join the conversation with us scary bloggers.
Cartoon: Hugh Macleod
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