NY Times Sends Cease & Desist Letter To Kachingle For Trying To Show Them Alternatives To Paywalls
from the hmm... dept
Back in August, we wrote about two companies Flattr and Kachingle that were trying to create a very easy to use form of micropayments, that do away with the mental transaction costs, as a method of getting people to voluntarily support content they enjoy monetarily. Since then we’ve been experimenting with Flattr (you can see the widget to the left) and it’s been quite interesting, especially since Flattr finally opened its doors to anyone, rather than being invite only, as it was when we first started. We’ll have a more complete report about our Flattr experiment sometime soon…
That said, Flattr’s competitor, Kachingle (which is similar, but with a few key differences) recently put together an amusing publicity stunt. Knowing that the NY Times paywall is fast approaching, it put together a “Stop the Paywall!” campaign for Kachingle uses, letting them designate which NY Times’ columnists they want a piece of their monthly contributions to go to.
It’s a pure publicity stunt, and when I saw it announced I wasn’t going to write about it. Except… the NY Times and its lawyers have now changed that. While Kachingle leaves out some of the important details, apparently, three people from the NY Times, including the VP of Digital, a lawyer and someone working on the NYT’s paywall, called Kachingle, demanding they take down the promotion, saying that it was “annoying” and that it would not stop the paywall. After Kachingle refused, they said they were sending a cease-and-desist letter (which, as of this posting, apparently has not arrived at the Kachingle offices).
In other words, the NY Times just made sure that Kachingle gets a ton more attention for its publicity stunt, and looks like they’re simply not open to any alternative business models. I am curious as to the legal reasoning behind the cease-and-desist. I will say that, from the information posted, it is not clearly stated where the money designated for the NY Times’ bloggers is actually going, which I would guess may be the legal concern. I guess I could see a trademark claim, in that the NY Times could say that this implies that the NY Times has a business relationship with Kachingle when it does not — but I think that anyone reading the actual site would immediately recognize that there’s clearly no endorsement or relationship with the NY Times. In fact, that’s why Kachingle set up the page…
Anyway, if Kachingle ever gets and posts the C&D, we’ll be sure to update the post… But, really, what benefit is there to the NY Times in doing this? Threatening Kachingle with legal action seems downright petty and closed minded. Why not let the company run its promotional campaign, see if you learn anything from it, and move on?