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New York Times Sued Over URL Linking 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-you-sue-for-heat dept.
Davros writes "GateHouse Media, which publishes more than 100 papers in Massachusetts, accuses the Times of violating copyright by allowing its Boston Globe online unit to copy verbatim the headlines and first sentences from articles published on sites owned by GateHouse."
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New York Times Sued Over URL Linking

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  • by Nirvelli (851945) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:06AM (#26290257)
    According to TFA, when this happened to Google News, Google settled with the complaining news agency.
    I don't see NYT trying anything different.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:07AM (#26290263) Journal
    This is EXACTLY why the majority of media companies DESERVE to go under. These idiots want to nail them for free links. What amazes me, is that by now, you would think that not only would they support this, but since the REAL cost of a news paper is the paper and the printing of such, they would get rid of it.
    The major media companies could take ebookwise design and improve hardware (change USB to ethernet and wifi; change out the flash to something newer) as well as software (allow other formats esp. .txt and .html directly), then add the capability to do news (make it seek out their site for updated news) PROFITABLY (add ads geared towards the user; provide cheap subscription that does just several ads total while none prescription gets small ad /page) all sold for under $100. Then drop your paper within several years. The important item is having the reporters. If ny times was STEALING the story (and not just the title, then they MIGHT have a real issue).
    • by yelvington (8169) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:29AM (#26290603) Homepage

      Some facts that might get in your way:

      * Newspapers have experimented with specialty devices -- and premium/pay services -- for years. Doesn't work. Generalized computing devices and free services have flooded the marketplace and there's no turning back.

      * Newspapers are already dropping print editions [yelvington.com] all over the country. Gatehouse itself announced yesterday that it's killing the printed Kansas City Kansan, and going online-only. I have yet to see a case in which this is anything other than a desperation move by a failing business. In the case of the Kansan, I think they only have 7,000 monthly unique users on the Web. That's not a viable business, regardless of what you might "save" by not manufacturing and distributing a printed product.

      * Gatehouse's complaint -- and I've read it -- contains a laundry list of issues, some of them in direct conflict with one another. But there is one charge that isn't easily dismissed. The Boston Globe is essentially creating a derivative product to enter hyperlocal markets where it previously had no presence. Gatehouse points out that nearly all the links on the local Globe products are Gatehouse content. That may flunk the fair-use test. (On the other hand, that argument effectively puts Gatehouse in a position of claiming it's entitled to preservation of a monopoly.)

      * Gatehouse licenses its content under a Creative Commons no-commercial-use provision. Defining what's commercial use is a big hairy mess, but it's not possible to argue that the NYT company is a noncommercial effort.

      Other perspectives:

      Mark Potts: http://recoveringjournalist.typepad.com/recovering_journalist/2008/12/gatehousegate.html [typepad.com]

      Dan Gillmor: http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2008/gatehouse-v-ny-times-co-not-so-simple-after-all [citmedialaw.org]

      • The specialized devices were expensive and were rented to the tone of 25-100/ month and then you STILL had to get a subscription. Instead, they need to SELL a low cost device that is geared towards reading, not towards simply pushing their own junk.

        How many were reading Kansas City Kansan PAPER edition? How many of them will switch up to on-line? Saying that they only have 7000 readers on-line, while not saying what is paper version vs. how many will SWITCH once the paper is dropped is pretty worthless.
      • by ClubStew (113954)

        I have yet to see a case in which this is anything other than a desperation move by a failing business.

        If they're seriously changing their tactics, how is it a failing business? We still need reputable sources for the news and not the typical blogger. I know that this isn't always prevalent in news, but I prefer more fact in my daily news like we typically see in news reports than opinion typically from bloggers.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Christian Science Monitor starts in April 2009 (daily edition only). See here:
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1029/p25s01-usgn.html

    • by ubrgeek (679399) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:45PM (#26291681)
      Windbourne, what the hell are you talking about??

      1) Knight Ridder has always been at the forefront of trying new technologies, including that abortion of a partnership that was New Century Network (I suffered through the thing, and tried to convince the paper where I was running so-called "new media" efforts that it was a waste or resources). IIR, they also tried developing a handheld device so you could "read the paper on the subway." Newspapers aren't staffed or designed for R&D. Oh, and Amazon says the Kindle gives you access to online newspapers and magazines. I can't vouch for that as I won't pay ~$360 for a thing. Let me guess, in your opinion the high cost is the papers' fault?

      2) The real cost of a newspaper is people, not paper. Paper is a _huge_ cost, but it's bought in such gigantic quantities by a chain (or in partnership with other papers if that makes more sense in the particular case) that it makes it cheaper than the cost of reporters, advertising folks, printers (and their union, which is a giant cost-suck) etc.

      3) "This is EXACTLY why the majority of media companies DESERVE to go under" - This part of my response has nothing to do with logic, just pure sentiment, but does a statement like that apply to the auto industry? It "deserves" to go under? Take into account the workers and ancillary businesses tied to it (shipping, material suppliers, etc.) and your statement leads tomakes no sense. Neither "deserves" to go under, it's just that it most likely will ... I don't see a massive bailout of newspapers being offered by the government.

      4) I'm assuming "prescription" is "subscription" but regardless, ad revenue is of course tied to how much a paper can charge for ads. Ad prices are based on the number of subscribers, and papers have to sell more than 50 percent of their print run to count as "subscriptions" (i.e. if you give away 51 percent of your run by leaving it outside of hotel rooms, then your number of subscribers is much less than the number of readers so have to charge less.) Your argument sounds like those often-heard on /. - "I pay for cable, why should I have to watch ads?" Why? Because that's the way the economy and business model works. Don't like it? Don't buy a newspaper. Plenty of other people are doing the same, but it has nothing to do with the fact that they have advertisements. (And, as an FYI - Sunday's newspaper is generally the most voluminous of the week because people want to see the advertising supplements. They depend on coupons, etc. And don't ask for a "citation" - In this case, I'm the citation; I've worked in newspapers long enough to know this subject. )
    • by Atrox666 (957601)

      IANAL but it would seem there are several laws that should be applied.

      1) they complainant should have to show damages and free advertising isn't really damage.

      2) If it's a public company the officers have to sign an agreement to act in the best interests of the share holders. This is clearly against their best interest.

      Too bad the government works for big media. It won't change any time soon Obama or not.

      • What I find funny is that so many believe in Obama for solving things while others are blaming the man for everything. I have seen ppl who blame Obama for the Mumbai attack as well as Israel/Hamas stuff now. Then there are others who think that he will fix all the racial issues in America while others think that we will be in worse shape than Zimbabwe on Jan 22.

        I feel sorry for the man. He has probably inherited the WORSE situation since FDR who inherited a coming nightmare from Hoover/Coolidge fame. Mayb
        • by Atrox666 (957601)

          Yeah he'll have a hell of a time if he doesn't end up assassinated.

          If he were assassinated it would be the perfect premise for another authoritarian clampdown.
          Whether you believe 911 was internal or external terrorism it was used to remove rights in the interest of corporate powers. i.e. RIAA

          If Obama was assassinated then the minorities who generally have the good sense to be suspicious of government power would be the ones calling for more of this "security".

          I'm on the fence about Obama either he is honest

    • by boohaha (1317513)
      I agree with your sentiment it's ridiculous. However, this claim isn't correct:

      the REAL cost of a news paper is the paper and the printing of such...

      The real cost of producing a newspaper is actually the reporting/editorial side of things...

      • Hmmm. My earlier post did not appear to make it. I have always understood the majority costs of a newspaper to be the paper and all the items with it (the printers, typesetters, delivery, etc). In fact, my understanding is that it accounts for something like 50-60% of the costs. Do you have some data that says otherwise.
  • It's funny how you never seem to hear the follow-up story titled "X's lawsuit thrown out because it's utter nonsense".

    When did unsuccessfully suing people become a marketing tool?

    • It's funny how you never seem to hear the follow-up story titled "X's lawsuit thrown out because it's utter nonsense".

      This [the-injury...ectory.com] article strongly disagrees.

      • by dissy (172727)

        It's funny how you never seem to hear the follow-up story titled "X's lawsuit thrown out because it's utter nonsense".

        This [the-injury...ectory.com] article strongly disagrees.

        Um, the first paragraph of your link states

        Some people will try anything to make a million. Ever thought of suing someone because they look like you? Check out this and other frivolous lawsuits for a laugh, but don't try them yourself! Frivolous lawsuits very rarely make it through the courts, and usually wind up costing the plaintiff.

        (Bold added by me)

        Pretty much matches the QP you quoted...

        Unless there is a new definition of 'disagrees' now.

    • by Nirvelli (851945)
      That's because they don't usually get thrown out.
      A lot of them just get settled out of court.
    • Thats because its so much easier to just post the insane threats of lawsuits online. Most of the time, it ends there. After all, when you shine a light on cockroaches and their actions, they all scatter and run their separate ways.

      Example A:
      Caton Commercial [demystify.info] wanted to make threats of a criminal lawsuit, slander and copyright because of a domain that published their publicly available court appearances. The threatening letter was then posted Here [demystify.info]. Although it would have been amusing to hear the 'plaintiff'

    • Big corporations have to cover their @$$ while it's not worth the time to sue little guys who post links.

      --------

      Muni Bond Sales Drying Up as States Face $42 Billion Shortfall [bloomberg.com] ``The combination of the worst financial crisis since World War II and the collapse of the $330 billion auction-rate debt market will leave 41 states and the District of Columbia with shortfalls just as financing sources diminish.''

  • What's next? Suing over the article about the linking? This is completely absurd.
  • and get your pitchforks in the meantime.




    it's on again...
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:44AM (#26290425)

    The problem with the "fair Use" doctrine of copyright it requires and assumes parties to be reasonable and conscionable. Once either party behaves unreasonably or unconscionably, it ends up in court.

    The worst part it is a type of legal situation that can't be defined easily. It must be vague to be flexible enough for there to be "fair use" of material.

    Since the media companies HATE everything about fair use (except when it applies to their actions, i.e. HIPHOP sampling and so on) they constantly try to whittle away at it with precedent, using egregious cases that are far more reaching than the judges suspect before they make their rulings.

    Unfortunately, lawyers, like all corrosive elements, feed of decay and destruction. Even the "good" ones make a living off the evils, yes by fighting it, but still by engaging it.

    We need to find a new way to deal with injustice. The courts belong to big business and the unreasonable. Most people never seriously do anything to harm another, yet the courts are making precedent on the exceptions and that is destroying freedom bit by bit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plasmacutter (901737)

      no, they attack sampling just as aggressively, then go back and cross-license everything with their cartel members, thus assuring NOBODY can make and market a mashup without signing a contract first.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      This is theft of material, pretty much plain and simple. Treating stuff on the web as a free-for-all and just republishing/redistributing it freely is fine as long as it benefits the person doing it. Nobody likes getting their stuff stolen and redistributed but most people on Slashdot can't see that far in front of their nose.

      And as for a new way to deal with injustice, I think dueling needs a comeback. If you knew that offending someone, stealing from them or usurping their rights could lead to staring

      • So, let's work through this, in a common-sense way...

        It's called fair use. It's called copyright law. It's called a limited monopoly granted by the state for a purpose. Very different from property rights, which are pretty plainly inherent. Creative works are simply not the same, under law, as land or cattle or something else physical.

        It's not property, intellectual or otherwise. It's not theft, stealing, or material. That is all the language of property, which creative content is not. To use t
  • by jddj (1085169) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:50AM (#26290455) Journal

    One could reasonably argue that copying verbatim headlines and first sentences in their entirity is fair use. I think it is, but that's a valid discussion to have. It's not about linking as much as copying the Gatehouse content and using it to label the links.

    Boston.com's position as a competing entity (vs. Google's position as a search engine) lends credence to this point. Boston.com is essentially getting Gatehouse to write it's site's local content for them.

    It's not as though the links were titled "Aritcle 7 from Gatehouse" instead of Gatehouse's actual title. The former case would indeed be about linking vs. about copyright.

    otoh, Gatehouse ought to love having a megasite drive traffic to them. All I can imagine is that they're looking at their metrics and seeing people back right out. They ought to work on keeping those visitors once they get em.

    • > Boston.com's position as a competing entity (vs. Google's position
      > as a search engine) lends credence to this point. Boston.com is
      > essentially getting Gatehouse to write it's site's local content for them.

      I can't see what is wrong with using the original headline and the first couple of sentences in order to show people what is at the other end of a link.

      That helps people to decide if they want to visit that site - or not.

      I think that is very much fair use.

      It's no different from taking the titl

      • by jddj (1085169)

        No argument from me that using the exact headline and first sentence makes the content much easier to use (I'm a usability professional, and it's what I'd recommend someone do if they're trying to make these articles easy to find - if they had a clear right to use the content, fair use or otherwise).

        And as I stated, it looked a lot like fair use to me - but reading this thread further, it looks like the license that Gatehouse put on the RSS feed explicitly disallows exactly this kind of commercial use.

        If we

        • > And as I stated, it looked a lot like fair use to me - but reading this
          > thread further, it looks like the license that Gatehouse put on the RSS
          > feed explicitly disallows exactly this kind of commercial use.

          I wasn't aware that you could contract out of the Law.

          And what has Gatehouse's own RSS feed got to do with someone else directly linking to Gatehouse's website my means of using the headline and the first few sentences?

          I mean, anybody can link to anything on the WWW.

          • by jddj (1085169)

            I wasn't aware that you could contract out of the Law.

            Of course you cannot. But this is exactly my point: if you aren't doing fair use (and it's valid in my opinion to ask for a court ruling on this), then you have arguably agreed to the Creative Commons license on the RSS feed you're consuming. Fair use and acceptance of the license are both covered under the law, so you're not contracting out of it either way.

            I mean, anybody can link to anything on the WWW.

            Yes, but as noted in my post above, this is n

            • First off:
              Nothing is being "consumed".

              Secondly,
              Even IF someone at the NYT became aware of the content by means of an RSS feed pushed out to the Internet by Gatehouse, there is no reason why that same information could not be obtained merely by someone surfing to that website on a regular basis and getting the relevant quotes manually.

              IMHO, Gatehouse simply doesn't want people viewing the content on its website. The bottom line is that it shouldn't have even bothered pushing it onto the WWW if it didn't want

              • by jddj (1085169)

                First off: Nothing is being "consumed".

                Secondly, Even IF someone at the NYT became aware of the content by means of an RSS feed pushed out to the Internet by Gatehouse...

                Many portals and CMS presentation engines can consume RSS feeds and integrate them into a site. This is not at all uncommon.

                For a portal or presentation engine to consume an RSS feed, or for a user with a browser or feedreader to view an RSS feed to which they're subscribed, they have to load it from Gatehouse's site. It doesn't get pushed

                • > Many portals and CMS presentation engines can consume RSS feeds and
                  > integrate them into a site. This is not at all uncommon. For a portal
                  > or presentation engine to consume an RSS feed...

                  No RSS feed is "consumed" as it is not destroyed or otherwise wasted or used up.

                  From Dict.org:

                  Consume \Con*sume"\ (k[o^]n*s[=u]m"), v. t. [imp. & p. p.
                  Consumed (k[o^]n*s[=u]md"); p. pr. & vb. n. Consuming.]
                  [L. consumere to take wholly or completely, to consume; con-

  • by FireIron (838223) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:50AM (#26290457)
    I clicked through the links, and sure enough, it looks like they're suing over having their RSS feed aggregated...isn't the act of providing an RSS feed affirmatively granting permission fort others to aggregate the material contained in the feed for other sites and systems?
    • by yelvington (8169) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:14AM (#26290537) Homepage

      If you look at a Gatehouse RSS feed, you'll see that it is clearly marked as copyrighted material and licensed under a Creative Commons "no commercial use" provision.

      • by FireIron (838223)
        They're also being aggregated by Yahoo News and Google News (type "Foxwoods" into either news search and you'll hit Norwich Bulletin stories). So this looks like selective litigation.
        • by Firehed (942385)

          There's nothing illegal, wrong, or problematic about selective litigation - this isn't defense of a trademark. I still think the case is stupid, but you do NOT lose copyright if you don't defend it.

  • You know you would think that getting linked would be a good thing as it would drive more traffic to the original sources site.....

    Good lord, a vast amount of blogs out there pretty much copy/paste at will. I don't know about Fair Use, because the nature of this is commercial, but the NYT can do a good step by removing all links to the offended organization, and never do them the favor of driving traffic to them again.

  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:04AM (#26290501)

    When someone links to your site you will get some visitors who wouldn't otherwise of stopped by.
    By using the title and the first sentence, this (IMHO) is enough of a taster that people who were interested in reading more would then click on the link and read the whole story.
    Unless:-
      1) The story is only 1 sentence long.
      2) you are a /. reader.... :-)

    Surely the NYT can beat this because they are only using a very small part of the story. If I were a book or Film critic, I would be able to use verbatim a few of the words in the book or spoken in the film in my review so what is the difference here.
    It is not as if they are using the whole article (or are they)

    This is not the first case of this type and won't be the last.
    As another poster put it, I wonder how much they have estimated they are going to lose when the NYT/Globe stops linking to their sites. Less hits means less pay/per click advertising revenue.
    This is pure silliness if you ask me. They should be getting more people to visit their site not less.
    Perhaps their Lawyers found themselves with nothing to do and felt thay had to be seen to be earning their fat/huge/obscene retainers?

    And no it is not the 1st April

    • Not really, no. Imagine if you made a page that was just like the front page of the paper with more adds, and just linked the headlines. it's taking their content to make money, not fair use. it doesn't really matter if the links are creating pageviews if they are being directed towards low value pages.
    • The Free Advertising argument is a false one, as it assumes that any loss of control that could conceivably be labeled as 'advertising' should be automatically accepted by the rights holder. The rights holder should have the exclusive right to determine whether they accept the 'free advertising' or not - in this case, they do not.
  • by lal (29527) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @09:25AM (#26290583)
    TFA doesn't mention that Gatehouse licenses content on their sites as CC by-attribution non-commercial license. The dispute here is specifically about the commercial use of content. It's a little different from the AP situation, where it appeared that the AP was going after everyone who linked to one of their articles. (Though, in practice, only commercial entities are worth the cost of a lawsuit.) Whether you agree with the Gatehouse position on the Globe's links, they're certainly not clueless. They have a strategy that allows pretty much unlimited non-commercial use of their content, while reserving rights to commercial use.
  • They're not suing for linking, they're suing for ripping off their material verbatim. I'm sure the New York Times wouldn't like it if I printed out copies of their newspaper and sold it for free.

    • by Dupple (1016592)

      sold it for free.

      Try giving it away instead and then see what happens

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Are you nuts? They would love for you to pick up the cost of materials and printing.

      Did you think that the newpaper was their product? Quite the contrary, their product is the readers of the newspaper, which are bulk leased to advertisers.
      • by davidbk1 (1403567)
        ++ The revenue from 2M readers is $2M daily. What do you think it costs to purchase materials, run the presses, and distribute the paper?
        • Actually, the revenue is a lot more complex than that. Newspapers are loaded with advertisements, and I can assure you that the dollar you spend on the paper is more than matched by the money advertisers pay to get those ads inserted. Also, keep in mind that the number of papers sold is not equal to the number of readers: newspapers are often given from one person to another, left on a bench or a subway train, etc.
          • by davidbk1 (1403567)
            Sorry that was my point, should have said revenue from actual selling of papers. They would give that up easily for free printing and distribution.
  • hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:22AM (#26290821) Homepage Journal

    I work for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, and a Gatehouse site, The Batavian [thebatavian.com], uses our headlines in their sidebar.

    This is a boneheaded, hypocritical move by a desperate company - their market cap has dropped to about $2 million.

  • Not "stealing" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @02:04PM (#26292199)

    This is theft of material, pretty much plain and simple.

    How is that?

    Treating stuff on the web as a free-for-all and just republishing/redistributing it freely is fine as long as it benefits the person doing it.

    They weren't "republishing" they were linking to it with a brief synopsis of what the like points too.

    Nobody likes getting their stuff stolen and redistributed but most people on Slashdot can't see that far in front of their nose.

    It isn't "stolen" as no one is deprived of its use.

  • Let's see...
    If the NYT lost such a case (not likely), what would the outcomes possibly be?
    1 - NYT hires some junior reporter wannabes whose job it is to read articles on other sites, rewrite them without plagiarizing, and post as NYT material. The winner gets neither fees and advertising revenue. NYT gets the stuff cheap.
    2 - NYT pays licensing fees for linking to the winner's site. The winner gets both fees and advertising revenue. NYT gets shafted.
    3 - NYT goes to the winner's competitor(s) and gets appr

  • thinking, "Not another:
    a. hom-,
    b. racist-,
    c. gender-, or
    d. age-
    o-phobic lawsuit over civil rights violations and/or LIBEL?
    RR
  • After RTFA, here's what I see: Gatehouse shows ads on the story pages, and they are getting paid whenever someone follows a link from Boston Globe and reads the story. On the face of it, their claim of copyright infringement is ridiculous. The excerpted material is small, and if someone wants to read the article, Gatehouse will make money.

    Their problem is that they also want the homepage impressions. If someone goes to Gatehouse's site(s) instead of Boston Globe's site, and clicks through a story link,

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