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Lawsuit Stops Headline Scraping 85

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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  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @08:48AM (#26620681)

    FTA, it sounds like Gatehouse see this as a copyright violation but, as several other posters have pointed out, the same thing goes on on news aggregator sites all the time.

    Which doesn't make it any less of a copyright violation. "Him too" is not a defence in law.

    In fact most stories on Slashdot contain snippets from other sites.

    And sometimes Slashdot does go too far, but at least it's in a grey area, with original content and editorial control as well. Presenting factual information is one thing. Mechanically cloning another's work and using their exact words, while adding no value at all of your own, is another.

    It's an unavoidable and very useful facet of the web

    What is, the using links part, or the mechanical copying without adding value part?

    This is yet another example of 'old' media not really understanding online practices.

    It sounds to me like yet another example of 'new' media thinking that by being on the Internet they are somehow exempt from the law.

    Most sites benefit tremendously from others linking to them - look at what happens with Slashdot.

    In this context? I'd like to see some evidence of the benefits the people doing the original work derive in this sort of case, please.

    By the way, Slashdot is a particularly unfortunate example, since people not reading the original article is a running joke and "Slashdot Effect" is not a term used to describe an abundance of ad revenue giving your business a huge boost.

  • Re:Web fundamental (Score:3, Interesting)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @08:49AM (#26620685) Journal
    So true... and the pages that have content but it's *always* worthless! I would give almost anything to have a blacklist of domains I could set while logged into google so that those never showed up in my searches ever again...
  • Laches? Fair Use? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mdmkolbe ( 944892 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:02AM (#26622275)

    Which doesn't make it any less of a copyright violation. "Him too" is not a defence in law.

    Actually Laches [] could be a defense. If the plaintiff did not sue other entities that engaged in this practice and then the defendant on seeing that the plaintiff didn't sue also engaged in that practice but the plaintiff suddenly decided to sue the plaintiff but not the other entities, then the defense could claim a laches defense.

    (That is in theory, however the facts of this case probably don't support laches because (1) google/yahoo/etc are not competing with the newspaper but the other newspaper is thus it is a slightly different act and (2) laches requires that the defendant to suffer some harm from the "trick" of not suing for a long time and then suing.)

    Regardless of the above they might still have a defense under fair use [] or at least be able to modify their reporting to make it fair use. Regarding the four tests for fair use, they will most certainly lose on the first test (commercial nature), but on the second (nature of work: news/facts), third (amount: one sentence) and fourth (commercial impact: more viewers on page thus more advertisement revenue) tests they could win.

  • by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:46AM (#26623073)

    the same thing goes on on news aggregator sites all the time

    Depends on what you mean by "the same thing". First off, is not a news aggregator. They are a news generator. They make money selling ads because theoretically someone wants to see the content they generate (and up until now at least, the Boston Globe staff has produced quite a lot of important news that people want to read, the whole expose on presidential signing statements was broken by a Globe reporter). The main problem here is that the people that run decided that they have the right to sell ads next to content that they do not own, nor have a contractual right to sell ads next to.

    Google News (since it's the only news aggregator I use) sells no ads next to any page under the subdomain that I've been able to find. Yes I just looked. No ads on the news search pages, no nothing, not even when I turned javascript on for That does 2 things that favor Google in this regard. First off, they aren't directly profiting from the link, and this preserves a lot of goodwill on the part of the people they link to, so they're less likely to be viewed as a direct financial parasite and sued. Secondly, it's a lot more likely that a fair use claim is going to be upheld in the event that someone decides to sue (remember, no use is fair use unless a court rules that it is), if it even gets to that point, since Google has set up systems for you to exclude your site from index/display on anything Google if you happen to think they're the devil and a thief.

  • Re:Web fundamental (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:43PM (#26624115) Homepage Journal
    I just looked at Google's CSE. I don't see any way to blacklist domains. You can whitelist, but not blacklist.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:08PM (#26625767) Homepage Journal

    You sound like one more person who fails to understand the concept of fair use and that old laws are not written with new technological possibilities in mind.

    You might like to reflect on what you wrote there, until you understand the irony.

    New technologies do not negate fair use, it just adds new uses. Some of which are fair, and some not.

    I maintain that linking with an extract is fair:
    The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use []: âoequotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.â

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