Cody Brown, co-founder of interactive web design tool Scroll Kit, is in the midst of some legal trouble with The New York Times.
Last year, The New York Times published Snow Fall, an interactive, multimedia report detailing the February 2012 avalanche at Tunnel Creek.
Inspired by the presentation, Brown replicated Snow Fall and uploaded a video of his process to YouTube. His goal was to show others how to create powerful, interactive stories even if they don’t have the vast resources of The New York Times.
It took the NYT team months to create Snow Fall. But Brown was able to recreate the experience in just an hour.
About a month after Brown uploaded his video, The New York Times’s legal department emailed Brown a cease-and-desist letter, claiming copyright infringement.
Lacking the resources to battle the Times’s legal department, Brown took down the video and notified the Times of his compliance.
But then he received another email that simply changing the video’s status to “private” is not enough (it turns out Brown only partially complied). The legal department also asked him to take down any references to The New York Times from his website.
At the bottom of the Scroll Kit homepage, it reads, “The NYT spent hundreds of hours hand-coding ‘Snow Fall.’ We made a replica in an hour.”
“It’s an unreasonable and baffling request for the New York Times to tell us to take down this statement,” Brown writes on Medium. “A statement of fact about a company is not a copyright infringement. More so, it makes little sense for them to send their lawyers after a three-person startup whose goal is to facilitate the type of immersive storytelling that they say ‘everyone wants to do now.'”
As of right now, the statement is still live on Scroll Kit. Brown says that he’s still waiting to hear back from the NYT about why the statement is considered to be copyright infringement.