Woot To AP: You Owe Us $17.50 For Copying Our Content

When Woot announced last week that it was going to be acquired by Amazon.com, just about everyone wrote about it. However, of the many media organizations that covered the deal, only one has floated a policy that would charge bloggers for the kind of excerpting that’s historically been considered fair use. So, when the Associated Press, in writing about the Woot-Amazon deal, borrowed some of Woot’s own verbiage, the deal-a-day site struck back and told the wire service it expected $17.50 for the words. Or the AP could just buy two pairs of Sennheiser in-ear headphones and call it even.

We’ll let Woot put it in their own words, though we really don’t need a new set of earbuds:

The AP, we can’t thank you enough for looking our way. You see, when we showed off our good news on Wednesday afternoon, we expected we’d get a little bit of attention. But when we found your little newsy thing you do, we couldn’t help but notice something important. And that something is this: you printed our web content in your article! The web content that came from our blog! Why, isn’t that the very thing you’ve previously told nu-media bloggers they’re not supposed to do?

So, The AP, here we are. Just to be fair about this, we’ve used your very own pricing scheme to calculate how much you owe us. By looking through the link above, and comparing your post with our original letter, we’ve figured you owe us roughly $17.50 for the content you borrowed from our blog post, which, by the way, we worked very very hard to create. But, hey. We’re all friends here. And invoicing is such a hassle in today’s paperless society, are we right? How about this: instead of cutting us a check for the web content you liberated from our site, all you’ll need to do is show us your email receipt from today’s two pack of Sennheiser MX400 In-Ear Headphones, and we’ll call it even.

The AP report on the Amazon deal quoted roughly a sentence and a half from a post written by Woot CEO Matt Rutledge. However, given that the AP has previously suggested that writers pay for the right to quote as few as five words, $17.50 for Rutledge’s 17 words, seems like a deal. Though at $6.99 plus $5.00 for shipping, the earbuds are a much better deal.

Sennheiser In-Ear Headphones – 2 Pack [Woot.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kevin says:

    Woot just won in my book. I love when somebody sticks it to bozos like the AP.

    • DeadWriter says:

      I liked it; it sent me to their site; I bought a shirt I liked.
      Even if the AP decides not to pay Woot, they at least made a few bucks off of me.
      I can’t wait to hear the APs response.

      Of course the worst thing would be for them to not to be hypocritical, pay the sum, and strengthen their argument.

  2. brotheryang says:

    wow this is just stupid

  3. Pax says:

    That’s just awesome; I loathe hypocrites, and the AP has clearly shown they are just that, on this issue.

    Go, Woot!

  4. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Oh, snap!

  5. tbax929 says:

    I like this. Good for Woot!

  6. Tim says:

    There’s an important distinction between bloggers quoting AP and AP quoting Woot.

    The kind of exception that AP wants to crack down on is when someone such as a blogger takes large portions of AP content to supplement their story. So, say, half of a post is written by a blogger, then the bloggers says something like “AP said it best,” then quotes AP for the rest of the post.

    What AP did was not excerpting. AP did not use journalistic content to add some reporting to its own story. It wasn’t like “Woot did this, here’s a copy of the post from Woot’s blog.” AP quoted an e-mail by Matt Rutledge. They quote people all the time, and quoting is rarely a crime, especially when the actual reporting is original.

    It’s sort of like the fair use exception for news reporting. If someone writes a book, I can quote a few short pieces in reviewing the book. But if someone takes a photo of the Obama, I can’t just slap that photo into my news article. If I do that, I’m not reporting on the photo, I’m reporting on the event and using the photo to supplement my news coverage.

    That being said, AP can be bastards about their copyright policy.

    • OletheaEurystheus says:

      except AP has gone after the same type of usage that they just did with the Woot sentence, IE quoting, simply because a blog did it vs a normal media outlet who quotes the AP all the time.

      • DanRydell says:

        Uh… regular news outlets PAY to use AP content.

        • _Rand_ says:

          And if AP decides to use other peoples content in the same manner they charge for, should they not pay?

          Or is AP somehow exempt?

          They can charge or force people to remove quotes, but everything is free for them?

          • Gish says:

            But don’t you get it, the AP is creating news and that news just happens to cover other people’s created content. Those bloggers are not creating news, according to the AP, they are just copying the AP’s created content.

            The AP is the news and don’t you forget it.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      That makes no sense considering that the AP begins charging at FIVE words.

    • coren says:

      I would agree with you were it not for the fact that the AP has gone after people for quoting much less than they did in the Woot article.

    • strathmeyer says:

      No, AP has a pricing scheme where you can pay to use as little as five words. This pricing scheme is how Woot came to the $17.50 figure.

      • DanRydell says:

        In fact the AP’s pricing scheme begins at 1 word, but that’s really not relevant. You only have to pay the AP’s price if your use does not fall into the definition of fair use. The AP makes that clear on their website:


        They even suggest an Internet search for a phrase (copyright myths) that will bring you to a very famous article that explains most of what you need to know about fair use.


        “The “fair use” exemption to (U.S.) copyright law was created to allow things such as commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. That’s vital so that copyright law doesn’t block your freedom to express your own works — only the ability to appropriate other people’s. Intent, and damage to the commercial value of the work are important considerations. Are you reproducing an article from the New York Times because you needed to in order to criticise the quality of the New York Times, or because you couldn’t find time to write your own story, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at the New York Times web site? The first is probably fair use, the others probably aren’t.”

        That page also links to this useful page:

        “There are no clear-cut rules for deciding what’s fair use and there are no “automatic” classes of fair uses. Fair use is decided by a judge, on a case by case basis, after balancing the four factors listed in section 107 of the Copyright statute. The factors to be considered include:

        1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes — Courts are more likely to find fair use where the use is for noncommercial purposes.
        2. The nature of the copyrighted work — A particular use is more likely to be fair where the copied work is factual rather than creative.
        3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole — A court will balance this factor toward a finding of fair use where the amount taken is small or insignificant in proportion to the overall work.
        4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work — If the court finds the newly created work is not a substitute product for the copyrighted work, it will be more likely to weigh this factor in favor of fair use.”

        1. Many of the blogs that frequently excerpt sections of AP articles have ads and intend to make money off their posts. This is a point against the blogs.
        2. AP articles are factual. This is a point in favor of the blogs.
        3. Blogs often quote a substantial (and usually the most important) part of the article; this could go either way, but is usually a point against the blogs.
        4. Blog articles are usually intended as a source of news that replaces the original source. In fact, it often takes 3 or 4 clicks to different blogs to find the original source. This is usually a point against them.

        Copying AP content and posting it on a blog is NOT a clear case of fair use. The AP invites you to consider whether your use falls under the fair use requirements before you pay to quote it. The thing is, the AP exists to sell news content to news providers, and bloggers have started using that content for free. Is it really unreasonable for the AP to be pissed about that? Look at it from the perspective of the AP’s customers – newspapers, etc. These companies are paying for that content to be created, and then it’s being used for free by their competition!

        People think it’s great that blogs are putting newspapers out of business, but has anyone thought about what happens when the newspapers are no longer paying for the reporting that blogs copy? Blogs are occasionally a source of useful, original reporting – but more often they’re just reposting someone else’s work. Blogs will only be a useful source of news as long as someone else is paying for the original reporting.

        • kmw2 says:

          Except that AP doesn’t acknowledge any use as fair use.

          • DanRydell says:

            Yeah, they do. You are directed to the first page I linked above whenever you attempt to buy redistribution rights for AP content.

            You know, you shouldn’t say things that you don’t know to be true – it makes you look foolish.

            • ragemo says:

              Really? It does qualify as fair use? I mean, if you look a the page you have pointed to twice, and answer their questions from AP’s point of view, it is quite clear AP’s use of Woots content isn’t “fair use”. I quote from that page:

              “Some useful questions when doing your analysis include:
              Is the excerpt such that the reader may feel he/she already has the gist of the original work and no longer needs to read it?” I’d say YES.
              “Is it your intent to earn money, whether through ads, subscription revenues, or otherwise?” YES, definitely YES.
              “Is the work that was excerpted highly creative? In the case of THIS quote, YES, absolutely.”
              “Are you choosing not to exercise an affordable and accessible licensing mechanism?” YES, or did AP ask for permission to quote?
              “Are you publishing the excerpt widely, such as on the Web?” YES
              “Is the work of excerpted authors the main draw to your work as opposed to serving as a “footnote”?” Probably not, but let’s say it is for newspapers readers, so YES

              And then there’s this gem:

              “Answering “Yes” to any of the above questions is cause for serious reflection before assuming “fair use” or “fair dealing” applies.”

              Since AP would have to answer YES to at least three of those questions it’s clear to say that AP’s use of Woots word does not qualify as fair use, as per their OWN guidelines. Talk about defending the undefensible here, man.

        • pawnblue says:

          I’ve thought quite a bit about what happens when newspapers go out of business. Nothing. Journalism exists because there is a demand for it. If there is a demand for journalism, someone will figure out how to profit from that demand. The AP exists because technology previously allowed for distribution monopolies. If a distribution monopoly stops existing, the AP can try to apply outdated laws to new technology.

          The reality is that AP has no desire to recognize fair use. The AP does not want to pay for news, but they want to be paid for it. They are simply preaching hypocrisy. They want money for free, and now they have to sue people because their role (news distribution) has been replaced.

          • Brunette Bookworm says:

            Very true. I checked out their pricing scheme and they even charge for educational use! Does that mean a student quoting an AP article in a paper now needs to pay? The AP used verbiage from a businesses website, not from a press release the company sent to them. In that case I support Woot for trying to charge AP for quoting them.

            • DanRydell says:

              You do not have to pay the AP anything if your use qualifies as fair use.

              The AP’s use of the quote does qualify as fair use, so they also don’t have to pay anything.

              • Brunette Bookworm says:

                I wondered that since they have an education rate for quoting but generally education is fair use.

                The AP’s use sort of, maybe qualifies as “fair use” but if you look at their own questions to determine fair use, it’s a gray area.

                “Is the excerpt such that the reader may feel he/she already has the gist of the original work and no longer needs to read it?
                Is it your intent to earn money, whether through ads, subscription revenues, or otherwise?
                Is the work that was excerpted highly creative?
                Are you choosing not to exercise an affordable and accessible licensing mechanism?
                Are you publishing the excerpt widely, such as on the Web?
                Is the work of excerpted authors the main draw to your work as opposed to serving as a “footnote”?

                Answering “Yes” to any of the above questions is cause for serious reflection before assuming “fair use” or “fair dealing” applies.”

                They earn money and they are published widely. Their link to US copyright info points out that even if it is fair use, it’s best to get permission before using it. It sounds like they didn’t do that.

          • DanRydell says:

            They do recognize fair use. Their quoting Woot WAS fair use. If you try to buy redistribution rights for one of their articles, it will explain fair use to you.

    • strawberryjam says:

      THANK YOU.

      Quoting a statement issued by a CEO – which is what that was – is reporting and not “copying their content.” Quoting a press release on apple.com is the same thing.

      If I quoted an AP reporter speaking on a matter, I would be within my rights. Statements via email and blog posts are considered like spoken quotes now. But if I copied an AP paragraph that was original material and not directly attributed to anyone in a quote, I would be violating their policy.

    • friendlynerd says:

      AP doesn’t block this site at work?

  7. celeb8 says:

    I love Woot so much :V

  8. trentblase says:

    So how much does Consumerist now owe Woot under the AP pricing model?

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      I’m sure as a non-profit, Consumerist will get some slack from Matt and Co. I’m guessing Matt will even offer writing some Consumerist blog posts, if it means a bit more free advertising!

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        Somewhat irrelevant to your comment, but there is a difference between a non-profit organization and a revenue-making activity done by a non-profit organization.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      A pair of black iPod headphones and a leak-frog.

    • Punch Rockgroin says:

      100 Screamin’ Monkeys

  9. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Hey, turnabout is fair play! And if AP won’t cut Woot a cheque or buy some earbuds, they’ve now got Bezos’ team of lawyers to go after them! It’s a crying shame as a Canadian, I can’t get in on a Woot deal of the day. Hell, I would’ve bought one of those $150 Kindles they were selling the day they announced Amazon’s bought them, if I were allowed to – coulda easily turned a profit selling it on eBay!

  10. bhr says:

    I wonder who would win a “best company in America” bracket in these parts? Newegg? Woot? Zappos? Wegmans? Costco (besides the recent story)?

    Be interesting to see.

  11. PSUSkier says:

    I heart Woot! so much.

  12. Telekinesis123 says:

    Lol I’m starting to start Woot a lot more ;p I’ll think I’ll go check them out. Those out of touch AP demands annoyed me too.

  13. pj1280 says:

    Just another reason why Woot is awesome.

    Those guys over at Yugster are a poor imitation… so poor that it’s difficult to endure at times.

    • durkzilla says:

      To say Yugster is a poor imitation of Woot! is really an understatement. Yugster is the ONLY online retailer I have ceased doing business with entirely after they blatantly defrauded me. I have yet to find any deal-a-day site that even comes close to matching up to Woot!

      • corkdork says:

        I’ve had good luck with DiamondShark (and it’s sub-stores).

        But, I’m in on the Woot love too.

  14. razremytuxbuddy says:

    Woot is totally awesome. Again.

  15. DrRamblings says:

    I love WOOT as a company…I hope Amazon.com doesn’t ruin them.

  16. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    And the greatness that is woot will end exactly the moment Amazon takes over.

    • kmw2 says:

      Zappo’s is still awesome.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Wasn’t that moment last week?

    • freelunch says:

      I only worry that their return/ customer service model may change a little… but I expect that the company will unchanged for the most part.

      I always loved how well they stand by their deals… especially when a rebate provider flaked out, and woot provided a refund for the amount of the rebate. Good luck getting Best Buy to do the same.

  17. TuxRug says:

    Official tee-hee moment. Bravo for the guts to charge AP. Bravo again for showing restraint and not suing for a $250,000. Lulz for giving AP a Woot-off price.

  18. Kishi says:

    Man, the AP should have waited until Woot! had a sale. Coulda got those words for $5.

  19. Kohl's Retail Monkey says:

    Are you sure they didn’t get the quote when they ordered a bag of crap?

  20. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    dammit! i can’t fill my bingo card until somebody makes a comment about woot! checking the AP’s receipt

  21. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    OMG. This is so awesome! :-)

  22. physics2010 says:

    Amazon should send a drawing of a spider as payment.

  23. jeblis says:

    More amusing info from techcrunch


    • razremytuxbuddy says:

      Well, THAT was interesting! Thanks for posting the link.

    • Sparkstalker says:

      OK, I’m not sure why the guy from the AP brought up the whole oil spill thing. That…makes no sense whatsoever…

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        See, what he’s trying to do is say in a cutesy way is the woot! story is a non-story. His attitude is full of FAIL. However, the author of the article is venturing into Douche-land himself. Is the whole of reporting inhabited by churlish, pseudo-“ironic” hipsters suddenly?

  24. INsano says:

    All I can see is John Stewart doing his “BOOM!” with accompanying fist punch.

  25. dabarak says:

    It would be interesting to find out if AP pays. Yeah, right.

    Anyway, how much do you owe me for this post?

  26. technoluster says:

    Another reason I love Woot.

  27. Seattle-Guy says:

    Right on Woot. That’s the way. Too bad that they just don’t/won’t care that they have don wrong.

  28. peebozi says:

    copyright law is anti-American and anti-free market. why does Woot & the AP (along with the movie and music industries) hate America?

  29. Smashville says:

    All of these “Woot is awesome” posts. I’m ashamed of all of you.

    Of course, if the CEO of Woot! can’t grasp the purpose of fair use and the Associated Press, then how can any of you?

    The Associated Press (along with Reuters, which is their main competitor) is a wire news service. Their entire purpose is to write news which local outlets (and some national ones) then pay for and redistribute or repurpose.

    They charge for redistribution, not for fair use – there is a huge difference. It’s the entire premise of their company and the foundation for most of the news in the US.

    Woot!’s comment on it is just idiotic.

  30. Thanatos says:

    Crap i missed a good deal on those earphones :( why couldnt i have seen this yesterday.

  31. Froggmann says:

    When I first saw the title I thought, “Oh great now Woot! is partaking in copyright ass-hattery? I like Woot! Please don’t give me a reason not to purchase for you.” Then I saw their letter to the AP.

    Thank you Woot! for being the same little wise-cracking asses I love buying junk from. Oh yea AP guy, did you ever buy those headphones? If not they got a neat little point and shoot on today.

  32. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Dear Woot: We see what you did there. Nice.

  33. spunkmonkey says:

    I have no clue what Woot does but after reading this i’m going to buy what they sell and/or use their service.