NY Times Lawyers Shut Down Blog Promoting The NY Times

from the how-backwards-can-you-be? dept

The NY Times continues its drive to irrelevance. As we get ready to hear the details of the NYT’s plan to lock itself up online, its lawyers are apparently seeking to shut down people promoting its works. Jonathan Paul, a former web editor at the NY Times, set up a Tumblr blog account last summer, which he used to promote what he felt was “beautiful and unexpected imagery” found on the NY Times website. He did so very much in the spirit of promoting those works, including full credits and links back to the original works at the NY Times. It built up a decent audience of people, driving many of them to the NY Times website. And, in response, the NY Times sent its lawyers to shut down the blog, claiming that it was copyright infringement (found via Mathew Ingram). Paul notes that the blog actually had a decent following within the NYT, and his former colleagues had encouraged the project and helped promote it as well, fully realizing that it was helping their own work get more attention and driving more traffic to the NYT. And then the lawyers stepped in. One more example of why just because you can do something from a legal standpoint, it doesn’t mean you should — and another reason why you tend to make really bad business decisions when you let the lawyers decide to act, without understanding the actual business implications of what you’re doing.

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Comments on “NY Times Lawyers Shut Down Blog Promoting The NY Times”

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29 Comments
John Duncan Yoyo says:

Re: Roffle mayo

Maybe Richard III was right. First we kill all the lawyers.

Does anyone remember the statistic that every lawyer costs the economy $1 Million a year. A few of these buffoons in wingtips probably are more responsible than others. Perhaps we can get America back on track if we cull the ranks.

velox says:

bill for it-- just because you can

“One more example of why just because you can do something from a legal standpoint, it doesn’t mean you should “

Ah, but let us never forget …billable hours

This is also just one more example (of many) where a company that engages a law firm to take care of their interests, and then loses track of where those interests end,
…and their attorney’s interests continue.

Anonymous Coward says:

nother reason why you tend to make really bad business decisions when you let the lawyers decide to act, without understanding the actual business implications of what you’re doing.

Actually, the bad business decision would be to ignore the lawyers. In this sort of case, the set precedent within the company on how they look at these things. This particular blog might have been loved by some of the staff, but it wasn’t official nor entirely supported – otherwise the laywers would have known.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“This particular blog might have been loved by some of the staff, but it wasn’t official nor entirely supported – otherwise the laywers would have known.”

If you look at the way big content has historically done things. Promotional music and videos and DMCA takedowns. That hip hop blog taken down by the DOJ-ICE-HomeSec domain seizures, for having promotional music given to it by the labels. They are not very good at this sort of thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

“(W)hen you let the lawyers decide to act…” would be more accurate if it read “(W)hen you direct the lawyers to act…”

While there are obviously some companies that may simply shuffle off matters to its legal group, in the large majority the lawyers provide advice and counsel (including not initiating a lawsuit) to executive management, and it is the latter that exercises decision making authority.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: New law

We don’t have to go that far (though we could), but that is where we are headed eventually. This can become part of fair use.

I’d like to create or to see public petitions bringing up these sorts of issues to a wider population and asking for change. This is a popular topic among people online, and the status quo is very unreasonable.

Can the people who post items that become “funniest of the week” get a way to state easily that they are making those works CC licensed or similar since such content can go far in trying to convince others? CC derivatives allowed would be very helpful and I prefer CC-by-sa. [A good poem can be turned into an animation or modified into comic strips.. some might want to add music/art to a composition… and someone can post that accepting donations (or whatever) offering sharing money with original primary authors.] Let’s create culture to supersede Disney, Sony, and company by being fan, artist, business, and competition friendly.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: New law

>> Make a new law.

We may not even need to make a new law in the sense that “clearing” all parts of all images on your browser cache and all text you see on your browser by contacting all apparent “owners” and cross-verifying this information might be too much of a task for even the president of the MPAA to do.

AND you’d possibly have to do this before you download any of it, since downloading it to read it or view it would already be a potentially unauthorized use in the eyes of many lawyers. [and would you need to get all of the authorizations in writing?]

How many websites has Dodd cleared for his children or for himself? How many hours would it take per webpage? I think this is why Judge Alex Kozinski ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110307/02173613378/just-because-you-dont-like-something-online-doesnt-mean-we-should-blame-third-parties.shtml ) said he didn’t like the Internet (must give him great headaches browsing).

I think this necessary cautiousness (ask any IP laywer) to try and avoid years in jail and million-dollar fines would certainly stifle the progress (and dissemination and use of information), hurt the general welfare, and abridge a lot of potential speech.

At a minimum, none of this should be criminalized.

Amid evidence that piracy generally helps promote a work and can definitely be used to produce income by the primary creator (including millions of dollars http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110303/02203613336/minecraft-creator-says-no-such-thing-as-lost-sale.shtml and more money than ever made before http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20101019/01004711475/dear-dan-bull-a-case-study-in-musical-innovation.shtml ), it is becoming hard to argue that anything but a very weak online copyright (if any) will meet the Constitutional standard of promoting a progress that otherwise wants to fly with the Internet.

If the Executive branch and its lawyers.. if our federal legislators who write these laws.. if judges (experts in the laws) in our highest courts can’t get it right, how can Dodd’s granddaughter get it right?

How can some other much less legally savvy granddaughter get it right http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100226/1553078323.shtml ?

Hosermage (profile) says:

If I had to guess, if that blog was that popular, NYT would just copy it and move it in-house (along with any revenue that can be gained). Before you laydown the astroturf, you gotta kill the grass first.

Not that I’m agreeing with them… but it looks like they’re just trying to artificially make their content more scarce so it’ll worth more.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re:

>> but it looks like they’re just trying to artificially make their content more scarce so it’ll worth more.

I need a law that will allow me to artificially win big in every casino I enter, win every lottery ticket I buy, win every contest I enter, profit profusely from every stock I buy or business I start.

And who cares what is the cost to everyone else.

another mike (profile) says:

the Hasbro Effect rears its ugly head

Been a while since we’ve seen a company screw up like this (since the Scrabulous affair that spawned the phrase) but this looks like a return of the Hasbro Effect; when pursuing your legal rights is a bad business decision.
I can see “And then the lawyers stepped in” becoming a catchphrase for all the situations where a legal response just makes things worse.

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