Last night (July 13, 2009) The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Connie Schutz was a guest. She talked a bit about journalism a bit:
I’ve been writing about this lately. I think there might be somewhat of a solution. In fact as I was riding in today there was a, a judge ruled … there was a court ruling in February. Basically what I’m saying is these bloggers; (to Furgeson)You know bloggers, you and I have so much fun with bloggers. They tend to take our work for free and they interfere with our advertising rates online and stuff. I’m worried about copyright law. We’re working to change it. I feel like I’m rambling and here is what I’m trying to say. Today there was a court case for the AP, actually the court case was in Februrary, a judge said ‘yeah, you know what blog aggregators, you can’t just take their work for free’ and today they settled out of court for a large amount of money, which is really good news.
Saying that most blogs are copyright infringement seems out of line. Although it does exist, its a small minority of some rarely read blogs. Its actually not all that hard to find them, either. Here are all the people who copied Connie Schutz articles. (there are a few false positives in there, but if you searched once a day,week,month and kept your eye out for new articles that weren’t there in before, you could wind up with a reasonably small set of cease and desist letters to send out each time period.) I can see how the argument could apply to news aggregators (Google news, Drudge Report, etc.) but are bloggers really the problem?
My second problem is that the “Hot News Doctrine“,she’s talking about changing copyright law (but giving no details on how) while at the same time showing how existing law and legal decisions seem to be succeeding at what she wants.
And to show how dedicated she is to copyright law itself (and not just how it can be expanded to help make her employer more money) just before that speech quoted above she pointed out this Huffington Post page: Craig Ferguson’s Best Musical Numbers: Which Is Your Favorite? (VIDEO) (POLL) which has a bunch of youtube clips of the show which are obviously copyright infringement. (CBS doesn’t upload their content to Youtube, they have the own video playback and embedding service on cbs.com) This maybe only slightly mitigated by the fact that Craig said during this segment that he didn’t care what got posted from the show after it aired. (“They can have mine. I don’t care. I do it, it’s done.” although I’m not sure he has all of the rights to the content to tell anyone that.) What a way to practice what you preach.
So I went to her web site at cleveland.com and found her recent articles. In them she does indeed talk about news agregator services and not blogs themselves. (she must have a good editor) In Tighter copyright law could save newspapers she is pointing to a lawyers wanting minor changes copyright to make the hot news doctrine stronger. She has a followup article Idea that would help save newspapers makes bloggers howl where she picks a couple of the most outlandish rebuttles and takes them down as straw men. (most articles I found referencing the article were much more measured than the two she decided to use as examples.)
Unfortunately, although I want to see journalism find its way into the future, I’m really annoyed that yet another group of content publishers wants to further restrict copyright and take uses of the work that were once legal. The movie studios wanted the DMCA and got it. The music publishing industry wanted the Sony Bono Copyright Act and got it. Now Ms. Schutz want to encourage the newspaper industry to encourage further restrictions.
Are the newspapers going to hold themselves to the same standard? When bloggers break a story will web sites run by newspapers wait for the original author to derive a competitive benefit from it?
I guess I somehow missed the party as it was going on. Tonight I read about the pipsqueaks comment from the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s reader representitive, etc.