New York Times Tells Startup It Can't Even Mention The NY Times
from the fire-your-lawyers dept
Okay. Whatever. The guys at Scroll Kit agreed that Snow Fall is a nice example, and they knew that it took the NY Times many months to design it. So, in a compelling example of their own product, they showed how Scroll Kit could be used to recreate Snow Fall's design elements in about an hour, and put up a video showing that. This is called "good marketing." But, to the NY Times, they claimed it was copyright infringement, sending the following email to Scroll Kit founder Cody Brown:
In response to Brown's request for more info, he received a third email, from a different lawyer at the NY Times, Richard Samson, with a statement that is even more ridiculous:
Dear Mr. Brown: We are offended by the fact that you are promoting your tool, as a way to quickly replicate copyright-protected content owned by The New York Times Company. It also seems strange to me that you would defend your right to boast about how quickly you were able to commit copyright infringement:Again, this is completely bogus on many levels. The tool is not "an infringement tool," it's a creative tool for creating this type of thing. Anyone with any even rudimentary knowledge of design and development know that it's fairly standard for people to create tools based on creating things that others have created in the past. In fact, lots of websites copy elements and style from other websites. Even the NY Times tends to be a fairly derivative site design-wise. Second: being "offended" is no legal basis for making a threat. Brown was not boasting about "committing copyright infringement," but about using a tool to be able to do a similar design. It had nothing to do with infringement, and everything to do with making the design process easier.
The NYT spent hundreds of hours hand-coding “Snow Fall” We made a replica in an hour.
If you wouldn’t mind using another publication to advertise your infringement tool, we’d appreciate it.
The NY Times is being absolutely ridiculous here.
Once again, however, we see what happens when companies focus on legal strategies rather than supporting innovation. Sure, Scroll Kit could make it easier for competitors to the NY Times to create compelling stories, but it also might help the NY Times drive its own efforts forward. Perhaps, rather than spend many months of its own designers' time, it could use something like Scroll Kit to make it easier for their staff to design such compelling stories. Instead, they focus on stifling it with highly questionable legal threats. You know how you can tell when a company is really in trouble? When it focuses on legal attacks on others, rather than driving its own innovation.