From a legal perspective—or any other perspective that believes in the development of, and adherence to, normative approaches to regulating behavior—SAI’s excerpting policy is eminently unsatisfying. (“In the eye of the beholder”? “We excerpt others the way we hope others will excerpt us”? Someone get Potter Stewart!) But, really, the SAI policy makes sense: it assumes a give-and-take relationship between not just authors and readers, but between authors and authors. It assumes evolution rather than finality in individual pieces of journalism. It assumes that authors prefer the aggregate to the atomized. When it comes to the Web, what could be more appropriate?

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.