Monday, March 03, 2008

Abuse of process

The website Snapped Shot was set up to expose bad practice in photojournalism. In order to criticise specific shots or captions by press agencies, they of course had to show the images. While these were copyright, there is a Fair Use exemption from copyright restrictions in the USA, and a clearer case of fair use would be hard to find.

Nevertheless, Associated Press has retained lawyers to write a menacing letter to the person behind Snapped Shot, and he has taken his content offline.

This is an example of one of the main problems now confronted by the new media. Bloggers and independent journalists do not have the resources, especially access to legal advice, that the conventional, mainstream media has always enjoyed. A letter like this one from AP would, I think, have received a dusty answer from anyone able to retain a specialist lawyer and confident they could afford legal fees if necessary.

We now face a situation in which even a hollow threat of action can close down a small publisher, and thereby stifle legitimate criticism.

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