AP may have to take on entire blogosphere, warns attacked blogger

"We get concerned, however, when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste. That’s not good for original content creators; nor is it consistent with the link-based culture of the internet that bloggers have cultivated so well," he said.

Kennedy told The New York Times that the company's action had been "heavy handed" and that it would try to come up with guidelines about what it considers 'fair use' to mean. This, though, could only ever be guidance. It would still be up to the courts to decide what 'fair use' means in any disputed case.

In the UK copyright law has a similar set of exclusions to the US's, which are called fair dealing exceptions. Intellectual property law expert Iain Connor said that the use of the material would be unlikely to be against the law in the UK.

"I don't think it would be an infringement in the UK, because in Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 there is a defence of fair dealing in work for the purpose of criticism or review or news reporting," said Connor. "You can use the work of another provided it is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement, and as long as you're not breaking an exclusive before the person who owns the exclusive has had the opportunity to tell the story, which is not the case here."

The AP's objections listed the number of words common to its stories and Drudge Retort's, but Connor said that the amount of a story which is taken is not the most important factor to be considered.

"In order for there to be an infringement the person has to take a substantial part of the work, but that is dictated by the quality of what is taken, not the amount," he said. "But once the defence of fair dealing is applicable, it doesn't matter how much is taken."