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Aggregation Aggravation: NYTCo Hit With Copyright Suit Over Hyperlocal Content

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The New York Times Company is being suited for copyright infringement over its Boston Globe local sites linking with headlines and ledes to another publisher’s articles. GateHouse Media, which publishes 125 community papers in Massachusetts, filed suit in U.S. District Court there Monday. The company claims that the Globe sites lifted headlines and ledes word-for-word and therefore infringed its copyright, even though the items were credited to and linked back to the Gatehouse pubs, according to, which is owned by NYTCo (NYSE: NYT).

No link love lost: In the complaint, Gatehouse says it wants NYTCo to shutter Your Town Newton, one of’s new local sites, reports GateHouse’s Newton TAB. GateHouse says that’s month-old Newton site used content belonging to The TAB’s online counterpart — called — and its sister pubs. Specifically, GateHouse charges that both through advertising and its direct aggregation is confusing readers about where the articles actually originated. And even though does link back to GateHouse sites, the publisher is frustrated that the links do an end-run around the ads on its homepage. In addition to Your Town Newton, launched two other hyperlocal outlets last week for the towns Needham and Waltham. Back in May, created BoMoms, a social net and local guide aimed at young mothers. execs have planned to roll out about 100 other hyperlocal sites.

Aggravation over aggregation: It’s been a while since sites threatened legal action related to aggregated content. The GateHouse-NYTCo suit comes a few days after Huffington Post’s Chicago-based site was called on the carpet of using parts of Chicago Reader’s concert reviews without permission. Also, the suit is being brought at a time when local and regional papers are feeling crushed by the economy and the general state of the newspaper business. NYTCo rep Catherine Mathis tells that the its hyperlocal sites aren’t doing anything different from what blogs have been doing all along. Mathis: “Far from being illegal or improper, this practice of linking to sites is common and is familiar to anyone who has searched the Web.”

4 Responses to “Aggregation Aggravation: NYTCo Hit With Copyright Suit Over Hyperlocal Content”

  1. What's happening here is that the Gatehouse people are new to the internet so their learning curve is 6-8 years behind others for some aspects of the business. Back in 2001 I cared about deep-linking circumventing our homepage…but you get over it.

  2. This is really dangerous — calling out sites to stop linking to your site. Obviously, linkers must follow the rules on fair use and excerpting. As long as they do, it should be good news to get links.

    You get traffic, you get link juice from the engines and your brand gets broader distribution.

    I get that direct deep links past valuable homepage ads can be frustrating, but links are not going away. Jeff Jarvis has good POV here:

    This feels like it is more about competition in the local markets and protecting your turf. Kinda like the old days when two daily newspapers would slug it out (sometimes literally) for distribution and circulation.

  3. Correction: HuffPo was called on the carpet for using the *entire* concert preview, many times over a couple months. The only thing they didn't use was the venue info, price, and time–in other words, they took everything except basic, publicly available information.