The Associated Press recently pulled a Metallica online, and no, that's not a good thing. Metallica, one of the most popular heavy-metal bands of all time, has become a symbol for cluelessness about the Internet -- witness the episode two weeks go, when the band forced music bloggers to take down reviews of its as-yet-unreleased new album after inviting them to hear it. Last week, the AP sicced its lawyers on the Drudge Retort, demanding the removal of six blog posts and a comment that included excerpts from AP stories. Each item, in fact, consisted of little more than a headline, a link to an AP story on Yahoo or an AP member's site, and a short excerpt -- less than 80 words, or about half the length of the paragraph you just read.
In a letter sent to the Retort, the AP argued that this violated its copyrights and its rights under the Supreme Court's "hot news" ruling from 1918. In that case, the court held that a rival news service owned by William Randolph Hearst misappropriated the AP's reporting by siphoning the facts out of breaking news dispatches. As Jeff Jarvis of the BuzzMachine blog observed, the complaints are painfully ironic coming from a news organization that often recycles its member newspapers' work without acknowledging or linking to the original stories.