GateHouse Media Strikes Again: Claims Headlines, Ledes Are Covered By Copyright, Threatens Forum

from the they-never-learn dept

Remember GateHouse Media? The regional news company sued the NY Times for linking to it, claiming it was copyright infringement to include the headline and a brief snippet along with the link (you know, like Google...). Amusingly, it turned out that GateHouse Media was doing the same thing. Eventually the two companies settled, and apparently that's convinced GateHouse Media that complaining about such links is a good idea.

Via CitMediaLaw we found out that GateHouse Media has sent a cease & desist letter to an online forum, claiming not just that its stories are covered by copyright, but that its headlines and ledes.
We wish to advise you that the stories, headlines and/or ledes that you are copying are the copyrighted property of GateHouse Media... and that your copying constitutes infringement of GateHouse's rights under U.S. Copyright law. This infringement is not excused by links to the original stories or by indicating the name of the publication in which the content originated.
Of course, it's not clear that copyright law actually agrees with that. And, even if GateHouse is correct, this makes no sense whatsoever. It's not as if people reading the Masscops forums are doing so as a substitute for some GateHouse Media news sites. If anything, Masscops is sending traffic to them, and helping new readers discover GateHouse's sites. What sort of company turns down links and traffic? Not one that's long for this world...
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Filed Under: copyright, headlines, ledes
Companies: gatehouse media

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  1. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 29 Oct 2009 @ 7:02am


    Really? Because it sounds to me like their TOS is attempting to rescind fair use. It is one of those draconian TOS agreements that makes all sorts of claims to rights they never had in the first place.

    Few of these claims seem legal. You can't just say "No Aggregating!" Website owners sometimes don't seem to understand that hosting a website means making a whole bunch of data available online - it doesn't give you any right to tell anyone how they can access that data. It's akin to having a TOS that said "You are not allowed to view this page in Firefox" or something ridiculous like that.

    It seems like everything they prohibit in their TOS is actually copyright issue, and as is common with TOSs, they are attempting to circumvent the actual law and gloss over the fact that copyright does not mean they get to dictate every little thing that gets done with their content.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me like absolutely none of those linking provisions are enforceable, and most seem downright ridiculous.

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