The New York Times Company (NYT) has settled out of court with rival newspaper publisher GateHouse, ending their copyright suit.
The Times agreed to remove links to (and lead sentences from) GateHouse stories from the Boston Globe‘s Web site, Boston.com. The Globe aggregates town-by-town news content from various blogs and news sites in a section called Your Town.
AP: GateHouse claimed Boston.com’s actions violated copyright and trademark laws. Besides publishing headlines and lead sentences, it said, Boston.com provided links that sent readers directly to “Wicked Local” stories. That meant readers bypassed ads posted on GateHouse home pages and could be confused as to the source of the original reporting, GateHouse claimed in its complaint.
As my colleague Henry Blodget noted last December, this is nuts.
Does GateHouse Media understand that NYTCo is sending it traffic? That NYTCo is alerting readers who might otherwise have no knowledge of or interest in GateHouse articles to their existence? That NYTCo is helping to improve GateHouse’s Google ranking? That headline and excerpt linking has been common practice since the dawn of Internet time (and is usually beloved by both parties?)
Meanwhile, this is potentially bad news for anyone involved in the content aggregation business, ranging from Google to the NYT to TechMeme to the Huffington Post. Assuming other companies are motivated to sue despite the free traffic they’re getting.
Here’s a few examples of the free traffic Boston.com was sending to GateHouse’s “Wicked” sites.
Here’s a graph showing why GateHouse might want to increase, not eliminate, the links it gets to WickedLocal.com from Boston.com.
And here’s the agreement. (PDF here.)
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