Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, linking, news

Companies:
gatehouse media, ny times



Gatehouse And NY Times Settle Linking Dispute: Bad News For Everyone

from the this-isn't-good dept

It appears that GateHouse Media and the NY Times have settled their dispute over the NYT's Boston Globe linking to GateHouse's local events site with a snippet of the text (something GateHouse's own sites did as well). GateHouse had little to no chance of winning in court, but it looks like the NY Times totally caved in to avoid having to deal with a long and costly lawsuit. The result is pretty much bad for everyone.

It's bad for the NY Times, because in settling they've almost guaranteed that plenty of other companies will now come seeking similar "settlements." It's bad for GateHouse Media because in winning "the battle" they're losing the war. The NY Times/Boston Globe will no longer be sending them the traffic they were getting in the past. It's hard to describe the level of pure cluelessness that goes into actively turning away the kind of traffic a major media publication can provide. It's bad for readers of both sites, because it limits the usefulness of the content they get. And... most importantly, it's bad for everyone in failing to have a hard and fast precedent set that linking to such sites and including the headline and a snippet are clearly fair use. What a shame.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2009 @ 3:55pm

    This case involved many issues totally separate from copyright law, the most important of all issues clearly being whether or not the NYT was engaging in activity that under state law constituted "unfair competition".

    Based upon the plaintiff's complaint as filed, the copyright claim would have failed at this point in time given that (1) no registrations are in hand, and (2) titles of articles/books have historically not been afforded protection under copyright law.

    There were some state and federal trademark claims, but those likely would have also been easily disposed of by the court.

    What would have remained after the dust settled would have been the state unfair competition claim, and it is this claim that would have been one of first impression and if decided could have provided valuable future guidance on the subject of the degreee to which a party may deep link into the site of another. It is useful to bear in mind that these sites are ad supported, and it is a bit difficult to keep all of your advertisers happy if another company with a larger market presence is able to assist others to bypass the ads.

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