July 21, 2006

What is fair use in blogging?

I just winced again—a blogger with plenty of witty, sharp things to say quoted 74% of an article: out of 1,047 words from the original source, 771 appeared in the blog. There were, in addition to the massive quotation, 57 words written by the blogger.

Is this fair use?

I ask because we seem to be in the middle of an epidemic of block-quoting, and this example is only one of dozens I read every week. Every time, I wince, because according to one of the standard online references I refer students to (the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use website), the amount and substantiality of a quotation is key, and in addition, the guide suggests, "Your copying will not be a fair use if the portion taken is the 'heart' of the work." Quoting 74% of an article, excluding only the first few paragraphs and the last sentence, seems to violate this guideline.

Overquoting seems to me to be a misuse of the internet. You don't have to quote 74% of a piece—paraphrasing with a link is enough. We have immediate access to the original, after all. Maybe some bloggers who overquote think their readership is too lazy to click on a link. I don't know, honestly. But I'd like to wince a little less in the future.

Clarification (11 pm): No, I'm not going to be a fair-use cop. There are better uses of my time.

Listen to this article
Posted in Random comments on July 21, 2006 8:06 AM |