The Business of Openness

Over the weekend, a big stink was raised over AP News attempting to squash the use of material by bloggers, even flying in the face of fair use. As backstory, the Drudge Retort, a parody site of the Drudge Report, used a very small excerpt of an AP story as part of a larger story published on Drudge Retort. AP served a takedown notice claiming infringement of copyright law.

The repercussions of that action were felt far and wide and caused the AP to sorta, kinda back down off their “heavy handed” approaches.

Last week, Startup Nation served us with a takedown notice of sorts claiming that the excerpt used on Steve’s 6 Steps to Successful Small Business PR was illegally used when the reality was clearly fair use and included a link to the original Startup Nation story. We declined to take down the excerpt but did correct the omission of

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That’s one business tactic to prevent infringement of intellectual property rights. Most larger blogs respect copyright and trademark laws and make every effort to follow good practice, as we do here. Most larger blogs recognize the hard work that goes into creating content and wish our own IP rights to be protected and respect that line with others. It’s not an issue with us.

The New York Times has taken a completely different approach to business and intellectual property rights. Instead of assuming an antiquated approach to content preservation, they have flung the doors wide open almost begging people to use their content. See, the Times has figured out the magic rule of distributed authority where, regardless of content consumption, the authority always trickles back to them.

This is a winning strategy in an increasingly open world with data exchange being valued highly.

According to the Programmable Web story, not only has the Times invited people to use their content – for free – but they have created a robust API for doing so. Developers love APIs and no better way to make people want to use that content but to make the API fun by producing data in lots of formats, including my favorite, JSON.

End of the day, the Times will win the battle of business openness, if only in principle. They are making data easy to access, fun to access and useful to access. Winning Recipe.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

3 thoughts on “The Business of Openness”

  1. aaron,

    i appreciate your perspective. i like what the NT Times is doing. The reason that StartupNation has to be cautious about this principle is that unlike the NY Times that “owns” all of its content, StartupNation often does not pay for its content and it is also owned by the writers. We have to be diligent in protecting our writers’ rights. That’s how StartupNation has created so much valuable free business advice content so quickly – by buildig the confidence of people who submit their work to us and trust that we won’t abuse it or knowingly let it get used in unauthorized ways.

  2. Thanks Rich. While I recognize your perspective, and appreciate your need to protect content authors, the use of your content I referred to and the way in which we did it has been reinforced as fair use time and again.

    Not really the point and I don’t really want to rehash all that as we settled all that in email last week. I use it as an example of practice that is a bit heavy handed and that’s all.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

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