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The Media Government The Courts News Your Rights Online

Lawsuit Stops Headline Scraping 85

Posted by kdawson
from the ok-geez-so-i'll-stpop-sending-you-traffic dept.
Stephen Larson alerts us to the out-of-court settlement of Gatehouse v NY Times, a lawsuit that attempted to stop the Boston Globe from linking to headlines and excerpting initial sentences from a competitor's Web site. At issue was the Globe's practice — barely distinguishable from those of Google News, Yahoo, and others — of linking to another news source's coverage of local news. The upshot is that the Boston Globe will stop the linking. No judicial precedent was set, because the case was settled before reaching a judge.
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Lawsuit Stops Headline Scraping

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  • Web fundamental (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @06:05AM (#26620027)

    Since links are so fundamental to the web, wouldn't it be easier if they just GTF off the internet rather than bother with these lawsuits?

  • by anticlimate (1093749) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @06:05AM (#26620029)
    Deeplinking and "stealing" your stories may hurt you int the short term financially. But - let's face it - the real reason of operating a newspaper or site is to make your audience see the world through your goggles. The more your opinionated news are linked or copied in one, the more influence you have on other people's thoughts, decisions etc.
    Yes I'm that cynical (in the case of the news industry at least).
  • Re:Web fundamental (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @06:35AM (#26620223) Journal

    I don't know. Screen scrapers can be pretty fucking irritating. Particularly in the parallel case of support forums. It's a problem when you want to search for a problem with some code or a database and the first eight hits are all the same post on different "forums", (usually all ripped off Usenet). How do you know if the replies are the same on all threads. What if *you* want to reply? Which site do you use? And they obscure different answers just through drowning them out. Ideally, I want a Google or Yahoo search engine plugin which will let me exclude all the scrapers.
  • by hattig (47930) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @06:46AM (#26620279) Journal

    Linking to other media sites is a common feature of many news sites. BBC News has links to other site's reporting for stories. It's just a headline and link, nothing special.

    That link boosts the other site's search rankings, and every click-through is a reader that they didn't have before, and an ad-hit, and maybe a repeat visitor.

    Taking the headline and the entire article is a different issue altogether, but I don't think that is the situation in this case. It is like all the Belgian (?) newspapers that want to have zero online presence or searchability. It makes no sense! You either participate, or you fade away on the fringes. That's why there is a "web" in "world wide web". Why be a bit of gossamer drifting on the wind when you can be in the web and actually be useful?

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @06:53AM (#26620325)

    The law is irrelevant: they settled out of court. Nothing to see here.

    How is law irrelevant in settling out of court? Do you think they settle based on their personal morals? On a coin toss?

    Obviously the settling is legal but the fact that they settled means there was a chance of losing the case in court.

  • Re:Web fundamental (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @07:06AM (#26620411)

    I agree, but not everything that is annoying should be made illegal.

  • by gmack (197796) <gmack&innerfire,net> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @07:10AM (#26620429) Homepage Journal

    Actually deep linking helps you in the short term.

    You end up with a site like boston.com sending their own customers to your site where their customers read your news articles and you get revenue because you get paid when they see your ads.

    Objections to deep linking come from the flawed idea that without deep linking the customers would have come to the main page and read the ads there before going on to the page in question. I find it much more likely that they would never have known about the article at all.

    Whoever filed that lawsuit needs to be fired.

  • No, the fact that they settled means that the court case was likely to cost more than the settlement. They agreed to stop the linking so they lost by default in the settlement.
  • Re:Web fundamental (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @07:40AM (#26620621)

    This isn't really about the links, though, is it? On a news site, the effort required to identify a story and get the key facts right is a large part of the value of the site. If someone else can come along and copy the headline and intro, they've got most of that same value for nothing. They are just parasites, damaging the people who are doing the real work, and not even adding any useful value for society more generally. This is why places with sensible copyright laws judge fair use by criteria other than just the size of the excerpt.

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @08:07AM (#26620807)
    >the real reason of operating a newspaper or site is to make your audience see the world through your goggles
    Not quite - newspapers, magazines etc exist to sell advertising space. The editorial content is just there to support this aim. It was different prior to the early 70's when magazines/papers genuinely existed to provide information to the readers but now that's a byproduct.
  • by Ender_Stonebender (60900) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @08:15AM (#26620877) Homepage Journal

    They won a battle. It doesn't mean that they've won the war. Especially since the settlement was out-of-court, so the legality of their action hasn't truly been tested. (There are many reasons for settling out of court - you know you can't win; you know can win but it won't be worth the price, you might win but the cost of the judgement against you plus legal fees will be higher than what the other party is willing to take in settlement, etc.)

    And as other people have pointed out in this thread, there's a good chance that deeplinking actual drives increased page views by sending people directly to content they are interested in rather than relying on them to find interesting content on their own via the site's main page.

  • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant.j.warkentin@ g m ail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:44AM (#26621943) Homepage Journal

    the real reason of operating a newspaper or site is to make your audience see the world through your goggles.

    No it isn't. The real reason is to make money. If your competitor is stealing your work and using it for their own financial gain, I think you have a right to be pissed off and sue.

    You give the media too much credit -- its motives are surprisingly shallow. It doesn't really care what you think, you are free to agree or disagree, as long as you are reading/watching/listening, and of course, paying attention to those wonderful advertisers who make the whole thing possible.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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