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Summary:

– Update: Under the terms of the agreement the NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) will make sure all Gatehouse Media feeds that contain its original ledes a…

Update: Under the terms of the agreement the NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) will make sure all Gatehouse Media feeds that contain its original ledes and headlines are removed from Boston.com and its “Your Town” websites by March 1. But NYTCo site cannot be prevented from “linking or deep-linking” to Gatehouse’s web news. This is good news for the NYTCo, as aggregation has lately become such a big part of the NYTimes.com’s strategy. Plus, given its financial struggles, the company can ill afford to engage in a costly, drawn-out court battle.

Gatehouse’s reasoning: With aggregation and blogging having achieved a large measure of acceptance over the past few years, why did GateHouse pursue a lawsuit against the practice now? In its initial complaint, Gatehouse charged that Boston.com, both through advertising and its direct aggregation, was confusing readers about where the articles actually originated — despite the clear links back to its sites. But more than the use of its content, the publisher was frustrated that the links do an end-run around the ads on its homepage. And that’s something that could become a major issue for other small newspapers facing increased competition from hyperlocal news sites and dwindling ad spending.

Original post: The New York Times Company and GateHouse Media have settled the copyright infringement suit the latter filed last month, AP reported. No details were available about the terms of the agreement the two sides settled on. Last month, Gatehouse, which publishes 125 community papers in Massachusetts, filed suit in U.S. District Court there after items appearing on hyperlocal blogs on the NYTCo-owned Boston Globe’s site ran snippets from the company’s local papers’ sites. Gatehouse complained even though Boston.com’s “Wicked Local” sites linked back and credited Gatehouse’s websites. Calls to Gatehouse and NYTCo weren’t returned.

In its initial complaint, Gatehouse demanded that NYTCo close Your Town Newton, one of the Wicked Local sites, which Boston.com had created about two months ago.

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  1. if gatehouse doesn't want its content aggregated, why does it have RSS feeds? RSS feeds are all about getting your content out there. To think that getting links from the biggest local Boston website out there is a bad thing. I can only imagine how their google page rank has increased by virtue of those links alone.

  2. This is not an accurate summary of the agreement, which you can read here:

    http://nytco.com/pdf/Agreement.pdf

    NYT/Globe can continue to link and deep-link to GateHouse content. They just can't reuse GateHouse's headlines and lede sentences.

  3. This article has been revised since I posted comment #2 above, so I withdraw my claim of inaccuracy.

  4. JB: Our case was never about hyper linking. They agreed to remove the copied GateHouse headlines and ledes from our Wicked Local Web sites/

    We love it when aggregators link to our content (in accordance with Creative Commons). We encourage our reporters to deep link to other sites. In fact, deep linking by both parties is explicitly allowed under the agreement.

    Greg Reibman, GateHouse Media

    Copying content for use that is not granted by the Creative Commons license or sanctioned by the legal theory of “Fair Use” and linking ARE NOT THE SAME. We encourage sharing of content, and making it as widely available as possible. We plan to continue this practice long into the future.

  5. @ jb – While it is true that RSS feeds can easily be used to copy content from a website that doesn't mean that those that provide them grant permission to use the content on a website. The use of RSS by personal aggregation software is likely the intended use, not wholesale copying and republishing of headlines and lede paragraphs.

  6. @Greg You would have been better off letting them create their 100 sites linking to you, then redirecting any referals from boston.com to a special page.

    Then for some good measure put in a few stories about why your paper is better than boston.com (then let their site have that content for a while). I would have totally digged that (more traffic and street cred for being cool).

    Linking to you is good – if they do it in too much of an automated way – that can also be good. You just wasted a golden opportunity and now the world reads the headlines and think you hate linking and RSS (they will not get the subtle difference here I am sorry).

  7. Robert C – The Wholesale Guy Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    "NYT/Globe can continue to link and deep-link to GateHouse content. They just can’t reuse GateHouse’s headlines and lede sentences."

    Well, what about sites like the Drudgereport.com, that link to, and use titles from, the various news outlets that generate them? What about Yahoo news, AOL, or Yahoo for that matter? Are they targets of lawsuits?

    I mean, just about everyone who is a regular traveler of the web, links to a story with titles and snippets from a news or article source and, in turn, links to them in forums and blogs all over the Internet universe..

    Will people start getting sued if they link to other news media stories, and place the titles and snippets on their website?

    What are the limits, or boundaries fair use?

    I hope this not one of those lawsuits that sets the standard for people to get sue happy every time someone does not like someone linking to them in a particular way…

    Or, am I completely missing something here..

    Robert C – The Wholesale Guy

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