Rich Kulawiec alerts us to the news that Gartner (which absolutely should know better) sent a legal nastygram to a Network World blogger
, Larry Chaffin, for the mortal sin of mentioning Gartner
without Gartner's permission. Specifically, Gartner is claiming full control over its research reports, and saying that a reporter cannot quote them. Gartner is almost certainly wrong about this. If the information is newsworthy (and it sounds like it was), then a reporter absolutely has the right to post it. Also, Gartner seems confused about how all of this works. It first claims that posting such info was a violation of its own policy... but it's a policy that Chaffin had not agreed to. Perhaps Gartner had a claim against the vendor who gave Chaffin the report, but that doesn't preclude posting the information. On top of that (of course) Gartner is pulling a bit of copyfraud, by claiming that copyright gives it many more rights than it really does:
Gartner's published research is proprietary intellectual property of Gartner, Inc., and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. Your company's mention of our research in your material does not comply with our Copyright and Quote Policy (available at the link below) and so this is an infringement of our copyrights. I ask that you take immediate and effective steps to remove this blog posting and also any other unauthorized mention of Gartner's research in any other venue which you control.
There's just one (big) problem with that. Copyright law doesn't really give a hoot what Gartner's own "Quote Policy" is. Copyright law has built in exceptions that can't just be written away like that.
Chaffin actually did take down the posts after being threatened, claiming that in doing so he's showing how meaningless Gartner is. He also promises never to post about any Gartner reports ever again in the future -- but did talk up Gartner's ridiculous policies and demands (amusingly referring to the company as Gar-ner).
Beyond just being of questionable legality, Gartner's actions also seem incredibly short-sighted (especially for a firm that's supposed to be known for being forward looking). Everyone knows the real
value in a Gartner report is not in any actual analysis, but in the PR it might generate for companies that find their way into the infamous (and silly) "magic quadrant." By forcing reporters not to talk about who's in that magic quadrant, Gartner has just made its reports significantly less valuable. Now that's