On Monday, the same morning that the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal broke, Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee posted an e-mail from the Associated Press which explained the newswire's policy against blogs using AP photos. The long and short of it: unless you have a license from AP, you're violating copyright to use an AP photo.
But today, blogger Jules Crittenden informed me, the AP is defending its policy of lifting from her MySpace page copyrighted photos of Spitzer call girl Ashley Alexandra Dupre:
Great news for people who think they should be able to grab any newsworthy photo off the Internet and use it as they choose. You know, comment on it, mock it, point out that it was staged, stare in slack-jawed goober amazement at it, etc. The Associated Press agrees with you. Ironically enough, it’s about that hooker. Photo District News:
The AP noted that the images were “obtained from a MySpace webpage” and specified that they were to be used, “only to illustrate news reporting or commentary on the facts or events surrounding the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.” Reuters identified the images similarly, and flagged them as available only for editorial use.
Associated Press director of photography Santiago Lyon says AP consulted with its legal department before deciding to use the photos.
“Given the news value of the photographs, we decided that these were images that the public needed to see,” Lyon says.
Of course, the AP didn't have to run Ms. Dupre's photograph, it could just as easily have provided a link to her MySpace page containing the photos. AP readers would then have to take the extra click(s) necessary to view them, which is exactly what the newswire would expect of bloggers aiming to use say AP photos of politicians like Gov. Spitzer.