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Hypergene MediaBlog » What if the AP went open source?
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What if the AP went open source?

Eva Domínguez at E-media Tidbits noted today that the free Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos is publishing all their content online under a copyleft/open source-type license. As long as there is proper attribution, this allows anyone to copy, distribute, reproduce, or adapt 20 Minutos’ content without asking for permission. Eva says their license is based on Michael Stutz’s Design Science License.

Stutz wrote this open source license for works other than software - books, music, video, etc. “By copylefting your work in this manner,” Stutz wrote in a piece for O’Reilly, “you can make it available for the benefit of everyone—all copies and modifications of your work remain equally as free as the original—while attribution and artistic integrity is guaranteed.”

In that same article, Stutz quotes a conversation he had with copyright expert Lawrence Lessig, on the intent of publishing under copyleft: “The free software movement has shown us the great value in open code; it should also show us the important value in open content. The same ideals in different domains, for the same important reasons: creativity and innovation.”

The implication of the use of copyleft licenses in news is uncertain to us, as we not experts on copyright law. So we asked Stutz in an email, What would happen if all AP content was published under copyleft? Here’s what he had to say:

“This is an interesting application of copyleft because it explicitly permits many of the things we already do with online news—people forward (redistribute) or quote-and-comment-on published news stories all the time. People ought to be able to do these kind of things.”

“If the AP began to publish news stories with the DSL or another copyleft license, we’d see a number of interesting developments:

Increased exposure of news: The distribution of their news stories would increase as the licensing would permit others to redistribute the news verbatim (as it is now, most news storis can’t even be forwarded in email), so they would see an increased exposure as editors might include AP stories in their publications, people would legally pass it along in email, post it to Usenet, include it on Web sites, etc.

Alternative views proliferate: Reporting by independents might make use of AP stories in their own works, thus making edited versions and alternate views available (Note that slander or libel is still forbidden. It’s outside the scope of any copyleft license).

A news format standard: Whatever format the AP uses for their published stories would become more of a news standard since their source files would be so prevalent and other publications might begin to adopt this format internally.

“It’s actually an exciting and hopeful scenario,” Stutz writes his email. “We’ve seen what copyleft has done for software, and it’s time to bring this to other fields: journalism, architecture, town planning, manufacturing, music, science, literature and the arts, etc.”

Thanks Michael, that’s an interesting future for us to ponder. Especially in light of Eldred.

Note: Hypergene MediaBlog is published under the Design Science License.

Posted on Oct 10, 2002 | 3:22 pm EST

READER COMMENTS


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you would prob end up with less ‘dead links’ at the big orgs too. i don’t know how many times in the last few months i’ve linked to a story and wrote a little about it, only to have it yanked behind a wall somewhere on the web.

interesting…

Posted by: kpaul on Oct 10, 02 | 6:54 pm EST

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