GateHouse to sue Globe over hyperlinks

Dan Kennedy breaks the news that GateHouse Media will sue the New York Times Co. over the way the Globe's Your Town sites (starting with Newton) allegedly violate GateHouse's intellectual property rights by selling ads on pages with links to GateHouse articles.

Whoa. I make money from ads on pages with links to GateHouse articles, so effective immediately, I won't be linking to any more articles on GateHouse sites. It's a shame, GateHouse papers do some good work and they seemed to understand how the Web is built, but the last thing I need is to defend myself from a lawsuit over hyperlinks (and yeah, I'm probably being melodramatic; GateHouse could have sued me long ago, but their links aren't worth that much trouble to me). So, GateHouse, how come you haven't sued Google yet?

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You were never a threat to

You were never a threat to their existence in the way that the Globe is. Your site is purely for additional viewing purposes, I read the Globe and my local paper in addition to Universal Hub. Your web site is also not designed around Newton or any one town, rather its all about Boston as a whole.

Boston.com on the other hand is trying to hone in on their turf and they are using links from gatehouses own websites to do it. Its not fair and its not right.

Your site on the other hand helps bring in traffic that may stick around. Boston.com is looking to keep people coming back to Boston.com instead.

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"Boo hoo, the internet doesn't support my shitty business model"

By on

Its not fair and its not right.

Um, what?

This is a clear case of a bunch of morons who skipped that "Internet 101" class in business school, and now they're pissed because people aren't going through their website the way THEY want them to.

Guess what? The EFF and other groups are going to file amicus curiae briefings against them, and I'm not aware of any deep-linking cases that didn't involve using images or video where the plaintiff won.

Snowball, hell, etc.

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Not right? Not fair?

By on

How in the hell do you think the web should work?

Besides, if GateHouse had an ounce of brains in their IT department instead of (evidently) too much money in their legal department, then they'd just do an end-around on traffic coming in from boston.com referrers (similar to the way people don't allow hotlinking of their pictures by using a "don't steal my bandwidth" default pic to send out instead).

If they don't want GateHouse links on boston.com, then all they have to do is redirect anyone coming from a boston.com wikipage to their front page or something....making it useless to have linked to them from the boston.com wiki in the first place.

All their going to do now is generate bad netiquette gripes, protective/retaliatory moves similar to Adam's, and basically reverse-Streisand themselves into the ground.

Gatehouse: Hey, stop looking at me!
Boston.com et al: Fine. Done. Poof, be gone.

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This is not like google at

This is not like google at all. Gatehouse has a very small niche they are tryin to cater to by having original local content and boston.com just came waltzing in and creates their own page that essentially just sucks up the local niche marketplace from gatehouse. At some point people will start going to Boston.com instead of gatehouse when they want news in relation to Newton. Gatehouse would be subsidizing its own competition at that point.

This would be similar to Boston.com coming into town with a blog called Hub Universally whose content was 85 percent stripped from Universal Hub with the remainder coming from a few other sources.

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Simply stating that "this is

By on

Simply stating that "this is not like google at all" doesn't make it so.

Google News allows me to create a "Watertown, MA" or "Newton, MA" feed, which will serve me up a page of links to Gatehouse content with Google ads on it.

We aren't talking about "content stripped from (insert site here)". We are talking about one site linking to another. A user clicks on one of these links and is directed to a Gatehouse webpage featuring Gatehouse ads and Gatehouse content. It shouldn't matter who directed the user to that page, Gatehouse should take advantage of this traffic (as they do) and stop complaining.

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GateHouse doesn't really have much of an IT dept.

By on

As a recovering GateHouse (fka CNC) employee, I can say that the online "division" consists of a handful of employees who oversee the nuts and bolts of the code. The posting is done by the editors and reporters.

I don't know how much coding would be nec. to fix the 100+ sites for individual towns/blogs/pubs, etc. as you've suggested. It might be as simple as click-type-click, or it might require days of coding each site.

However, even if it took days of temps coding the pages, it would cost less than lawyers.

I think this has less to do with poor understanding of the Internet as much as it does creating a pitched battle between them and the Globe.

The point of the suit is that the Globe is the standard-bearer of area news. No matter how relevant or important or substantive my reporting was, I always had someone referring to my "little" paper or asking me if I wanted to work for a "real" or a "big" paper like the Globe someday. And for many people, the stories my colleagues and I worked on would be reported on for weeks, but many didn't hear/care about them until they were in the Globe.

Trouble is, the Globe can't win in the trenches. It shouldn't try, but it is. Too bad. It is getting killed in the city by the Herald. It is getting killed in the 'burbs by GateHouse. And yet it still continues to bring us such grate stories about people giving up the rat race to make soap in VT or about some schoolboard dust-up in some remote exurb. The City section is a dreadful eight pages most days, with two pages going to deaths and a third going to weather. How terrible.

If the Globe wants to be a world-class paper, it might reconsider its whole news coverage model, dump the umpteen sections and be a bit lighter in certain areas. Its strengths are sports and business. Use those to build on for local, state, and national reporting.

IMHO, of course.

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That would be just as bad as suing

If they don't want GateHouse links on boston.com, then all they have to do is redirect anyone coming from a boston.com wikipage to their front page or something

Doing that would be just as disrespectful of the readers as the lawsuit is, and would express the exact same cluelessness about the purpose of hypertext.

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At least that would be constructive

By on

I hope boston.com points this option out in their response. at the very least, it's a means of mitigation of the "damage done" by the (gosh, i thought they were driving traffic!) deep links.

this infatuation with the "home page" is moronic, but befitting Ye Olde GateHouse.

I mean, if they're gonna screw up and not get it, then huzzah to Ye Olde GateHouse for going all-out and making sure they REALLY don't get it and for doing so where everyone can see...

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Gatehouse deserves no sympathy

By on

This suit is laughable. The arguments from Gatehouse employees like ShadyMilkMan are laughable.

Boston.com is aggregating content around a topic, in this case Newton. There are thousands of sites on the web that do exactly that, including Universal Hub, outside.in, povo.com, topix.com, everyblock.com, and about a billion blogs. Not to mention Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. It's been a well-trod path for the best part of a decade.

I'm still waiting to hear an actual *reason* why what Boston.com is doing is wrong legally or ethically. So far all we've gotten are vague phrases like "it's unfair" or "Boston.com is trying to hone in on Gatehouse's turf." Gatehouse's turf? How presumptuous. I live in Newton and I am nobody's turf.

The Gatehouse newspaper in Newton, the Tab, is pretty pathetic, but it's all we've got. Why is it all we've got? Because Gatehouse bought, and then closed down, all the competing newspapers in town. This is not a company that deserves one iota of sympathy.

Someone noted that the lawsuit reads like PR release. That's hardly surprising. Have you ever read their blogs? They are so self-congratulatory and self-referential it's sickening.

Either compete, Gatehouse, or be gone. But stop whining.

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This suit is laughable. The

This suit is laughable. The arguments from Gatehouse employees like ShadyMilkMan are laughable.

With all due respect "Calvin" if youve read my previous comments about other subjects it would become abundantly clear I dont live in the Newton and Gatehouse "Tab" area. Just because I hold an opinion on something does not make me a member of the staff of said organization. I have commented on several other stories, for and against all sorts of other people and businesses, is it possible that I work for all the companies that I have defended in the past? BY your logic you work for the Boston Globe and Boston.com . I think your rush to assumption is ignorant.

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What a joke!

By Xbox 360 on

What a joke. Surely they won't get away with this. Do they really expect them to remove ads from just their articles. This is pretty common so if everyone was like this everyone would be suing everyone! :S Thanks for sharing!

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This is no different than

This is no different than the Google cases. Google - and Universal Hub - direct traffic to other web sites. Along the way, they run ads, which in no way subtract from profits being made on the target sites. This should be a win-win situation, right?

There's a story that is/was used to describe the character of Russian peasants. An angel comes down from Heaven and offers a peasant a wish, but whatever he wishes for, his neighbor will get double. The peasant thinks a while, and says: "Put one of my eyes out."

There's my opinion of all these target sites/copyright holders. They can't stand to see someone who makes them money, making money themselves.

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Along the way, they run ads,

By on

Along the way, they run ads, which in no way subtract from profits being made on the target sites. This should be a win-win situation, right?

Wrong. Many folks just read the headlines and don't bother to click thru for the whole article. Google and other pure news aggregators are profiting from the work of newspapers without any compensation. The book industry understands this, why the newspapers don't is beyond me.

Never been a big fan of Gatehouse, but I'm with them here.

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What a joke!

By Philip on

What a joke. Surely they won't get away with this. Do they really expect them to remove ads from just their articles. This is pretty common so if everyone was like this everyone would be suing everyone! :S Thanks for sharing!

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I may be missing something,

By on

I may be missing something, but isn't this very stupid?

Isn't the whole point of offering info on the net to direct more and more traffic to your own website?

Dumb move by Gatehouse, most likely started by someone who has no idea how the net really works. The glob might make revenue on adds on it's own pages that link to Gatehouse, but whats stopping them from making money off of the re-directs?
It be one thing if they reproduced articles in full, but as far as I know this linking shouldn't hold up in court.

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GateHouse complaint now online

Dan Kennedy posted it here. Take a look and decide whether you think it applies to Universal Hub (or Google, for that matter).

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Will get laughed out of court

By on

Primary Complaint: "Defendant is offering plaintiff's copyrighted material (headlines and first sentence of stories) on the Infringing Website without plaintiff's express or implied permission."

Only Counterpoint Needed aka "You don't need Columbo, Matlock, or Perry Mason for this one" aka "CASE CLOSED": Wicked Local's RSS feed is all the implied permission needed. What in the HELL do you chuckleheads think REALLY SIMPLE SYNDICATION means anyways?

Hey, GateHouse, STFU and GBTW. Dumbasses.

Their next obvious legal step is to gather up all of the online RSS readers into a class action suit along with their NYTimes/Boston.com defendant. Sheesh...

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Strange

By on

"Within certain restrictions, GateHouse Media will allow for the free redistribution of digital content by commercial publishers."

The content boston.com is using seems to be Wicked's RSS (or "scraped" as GatehOuse calls it, with quotes) feed and Wicked is clearly attributed by boston.com.

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1996

Disclaimer: I am formerly of the Globe, and I worked on this very project until I left in May. I don't know what's happening at Morrissey Boulevard these days, and my opinions are strictly my own.

And, in my personal opinion, this is moronic. Gatehouse's 1996 view of the web deserves the open humiliation it's about to receive.

What's especially annoying me about this is that Boston.com is playing nice, deliberately setting out to be good web citizens -- far better web citizens than most professional sites. The links are clean (not no-followed). Everything is properly attributed. The snippets used are way within the limits of fair use as seen on the web. If Gatehouse wants to redefine fair use, then a whole lot of the web is going to change.

The Globe has been moving heavily over the past three years to change the culture from "if it wasn't produced here, it's no good" to "stick to our strengths and link to the rest." I led a project to build the local search engine, which indexes the local media sites and most of the local blogs, and links out directly to them. The multimedia search links out directly to the other major media sites and podcasts.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but as a web person, it pisses me off.

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i thought wicked local was old school but this takes the cake

By on

they wrote "ledes"

LEDES!

we didn't even use that word in J-school when I attended about a million and one years ago.

(stet)
are they really using wicked local's trademarks?
i think not.
and i think boston.com's got a wickedly-local fair use defense if this is the worst it gets:

SCHOOLS
Newspaper takes back steroids claims
Newton South's school-sanctioned newspaper published an article with false information because of a lack of oversight, the paper's adviser said. (Wicked Local News, 12/22/08)

i mean, dang, i wish they'd link to MY stuff that generously.

what a crappy complaint, anyway. In parts, it reads more like a PR release than a substantive complaint.
eg:

GateHouse currently has pending before the United States Copyright Office applications for valid and subsisting copyright registrations for each and every original article prepared by GateHouse's staff which appeared in Newton TAB during the month of November, 2008.

(a work is copyrighted the minute it's set into some tangible, substantially non-malleable form, for example, when it's published. duh. these registrations may make the claim a little bit easier to pursue, I'm told... but not by much. just grandstanding and padding to make a nice fat complaint).

Trademark infringement is only infringing if people somehow believe that Boston.com's offering is a product of GateHouse's publication... seems unlikely but maybe they can find some grannies who don't get it.

oh, and they're pissed (43) that their "electronic countermeasures" (IP address blocking) failed to prevent boston.com from "scraping" or even seeing the site. No kidding. Big LOL to that one. Connecting from a different IP address is an interesting kind of "circumvention" (44)

eh. et supra this, bitches. As another poster already said, poof, you no longer exist, that's great. Plenty of material out there. More room for the rest of us to become well known.

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Lede

is spelled that way to distinguish itself from "lead" or "leading" (pronounced ledd-ing), which refers to the space between typeset lines.

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Yes, i know that

By on

i know that very, very well, all those things, having worked in the press for several years.

But this is a court filing, concerning the "lead paragraph" of a story. They should be using proper English, not press room slang.

They didn't write "heds" for "headlines" even though that's from the fatass cigar-smoking editor's vernacular too.

Perhaps they could further legitimize the complaint by speaking of electronic slugs (characters), and ending the complaint by writing 30- on a single line.

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Lede

It wasn't called a "lede" when I went to J-school either. But it's part of the jargon now. The NYTimes has a blog called "The Lede."

I cringe when local TV news people refer to stories as "packages."

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Old school

By on

sorry, but i think any such attempts to bring that ancient word back, and any of the others around it, are just bright, blinky, quo-tated leading indicators of what some of us have come to call, in our own little jargon-filled land of fantasy, "FAIL".

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Official Copywriting

By on

The lawyers had to justify the salary their getting paid for having a "team" working on this lawsuit. Some intern got the fun "role" of filing all of those copyrights, I'm sure. Poor bastard...well, getting richer anyways.

The only people who are going to win in this case...are the lawyers.

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You caught me

By on

Typing faster than I'm thinking. Thanks. Meant copyrighting.

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obviously

By on

boston.com has failed to file the proper paperwork with the international copyright tribunals, so it's their own fault.

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Google News

Everyone wants to make the Google analogy. No one wants to point out that Google keeps advertising off its Google News site. That is a considerable difference, given that both the Globe and GateHouse are trying to make money selling ads on their community pages.

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NOT Google News

By on

As with Adam, i just use Google to find news stories, not "google news" and I agree with him that "most people" probably find news stories that way, because they didn't necessarily know they were looking for "news stories" exclusively.

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How about CNN?

By on

On the cnn.com site they do an automatic local news thing that links to other sites, and they have ads on the page. Actually, it's via topix.com, and they link to lots of other sites.

I have no idea if cnn or topix has some sort of agreement with all those other sites, but it seems like the same basic idea as what boston.com is doing.

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no advertising on google news

If you go back and read the lawsuits Google has won on fair use grounds, judges have not bought Google's argument that it is not commercial because there are no ads on a certain page. Judges have ruled Google will benefit financially eventually by doing what it does (otherwise Google wouldn't do it). The judges then go on to rule for Google anyway, because commercial intent is a minor factor.

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Message for GateHouse

By on

Here's a message for GateHouse: Stop crying about what Boston.com is doing and work on making your own sites better. If you all are so scared of it, that speaks volumes for the faith you have in what you offer today. If you're proud of your product and you've made it everything it can be, what's to worry about? Say thanks for the traffic and get back to work. All of this outcry is translating into the fact that you don't stand behind your sites and you're using a really weak legal argument to bring that to light. If you did, you wouldn't see Boston.com as such a threat. There will always be competition, whether it's from local bloggers, GOOGLE, or Boston.com. Use that knowledge to continue to write BETTER stories and build better online products that will keep your existing audience engaged. Imagine, the money spent on legal proceedings already - let alone what's to come - could probably pay a couple reporters' salaries.

You all are embarrassing yourselves in a very public way.

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Fair Use & Journalism & Lawyers

By on

Effectively just scraping the headline and first sentence is a little lazier than they really should be.

I'm not sure Boston.com Your Town is on solid Fair Use ground.

Besides, given their Globe/NYTCo affiliation, they really should be adding more journalistic value whenever they leech a story from a clear competitor.

Gatehouse shouldn't whine *too* much, though. Boston.com is acting pretty close to accepted common practice. And a major lawsuit will burn up the remainder of the money neither of them has.

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How does advertising interact with Creative Commons licensing

By on

The WickedLocal Newton RSS feed has a Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported) license http://www.wickedlocal.com/newton/homepage/rss (Adam said that he wouldn't link to Gatehouse anymore, but I hope I can put the URL to the RSS feed in the comment.)

In Creative Commons "Non-Commercial" Content on Ad-Supported Sites Philipp Lenssen relates a discussion with Lawrence Lessig of whether someone accepting the non-commercial CC license can display ads. ("yes, the CC organization believes this being OK is the best reading of the license.")

On the other hand, This does seem to be something that concerns the Creative Common organization. A few months back they released a study of how the terms commercial and non-commercial are understood

Beyond the license, there is a question of how much of content is being used. From what I can count 2 out of 18 links in the main well of the Boston.com Newton page. (and if you follow the "more Newton stories..." link then another 22 out of 102.) That doesn't seem like a wholesale lifting of links and ledes from the site.

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