GateHouse Media, a large publisher of community newspapers filed copyright infringement lawsuit against the New York Times Co., which is set to hit the courthouse this week. The suit claims that Boston.com (the website affiliated with the NYT Co.-owned Boston Globe) used online GateHouse material without permission
GateHouse claims Boston.com violates copyright and trademark laws by taking GateHouse’s newspaper headlines and lead sentences published on its “Wicked Local” Web sites. GateHouse alleges that Boston.com offers links that send readers directly to “Wicked Local” stories — bypassing ads posted on home pages that help fund its operation and creating confusion on the source of the original reporting.
The case is being closely watched because of its results could be potentially far-reaching (ahem Huffington Post!).
UPDATE: That was fast! Turns out they settled before getting to the courthouse. Details after the jump.
“It’s certainly being followed within the journalism community, but this is huge in new media and blogging because God help us if a judge or a jury starts to lay down rules as to what constitutes acceptable linking practices and what isn’t,” said Dan Kennedy, an assistant journalism professor at Northeastern University who has been blogging about the case on Media Nation.
Once again we suspect the clock is ticking on this whole “free content” as a business model experiment.
UPDATE: GateHouse Media Inc. will set up technical barriers preventing Boston.com, the Boston Globe’s website, from automated “scraping” of GateHouse content, and Boston.com has agreed to honor those barriers under a settlement disclosed this morning…There was no agreement by the Times Co. to stop using headlines and snippets from non-GateHouse stories it links to…As such, the settlement left unresolved the legal issue issue that drew the attention of news and technology companies, as well as Internet bloggers: whether news websites — especially aggregation sites, including Google News and Yahoo News — can continue with their current practice of posting headlines and lead sentences for stories they link to from other sites.