Gatehouse link stupidity reaches settlement

Thanks to a commenter, here’s a link to the PDF of a settlement letter between Gatehouse and The New York Times Company over Gatehouse’s inane suit over links. The Times agrees to take down its links and not put up links to content that has a Gatehouse label attached (in the legal wording, a technological solution to prevent copying of its content and RSS feeds). Yet they still agree they can link and deep-link to each other.

I’m glad that this idiocy led to no precedent. Pity, though, that Gatehouse proves to be such a fool.

  • Not quite Jeff. Although the settlement does not set a legal precedent, news aggregators will consider it when confronted with a demand to stop copying headlines and ledes. The “fair use” argument applied to headlines and ledes has been dealt a blow with this settlement.

    You’re also not on the mark with your characterization that the NY Times agreed to “not put up links to content “. They agreed not to use the text from the headlines and ledes in the content. Linking is not a problem if they use their own words to describe the story linked to.

    • invitedmedia

      fair use has not been “dealt a blow with this settlement”.

      you’re talking about a limping midget taking a mortally wounded giant on in court.

      let gatehouse (or ANY print media) take on a financially stable aggregator with such a claim and watch the fun unfold.

      “we love it when bloggers link to our content”… nice way of showing it, gatehouse.

      • Does Google count? The AFP v Google settlement was not released but Google is now licensing AFP content, likely for money.

        These settlements likely indicate the plaintiffs are not so sure about a “fair use” defense and settled. In both AFP v Google and Gatehouse v NY Times the defendants, the news aggregators, stopped what they were doing and the plaintiffs got what they wanted. Lawyers in future cases will consider these cases.

  • You miss the point. Our case was never about hyper linking. We love it when bloggers and other sites deep link to our content (in accordance with Creative Commons). We encourage our reporters to deep link to other sites.

    I’d urge you to review the court documents or some of the more level headed reporting on this matter for a better understanding of the issues.

    Greg Reibman
    Editor in Chief, Metro Unit
    GateHouse Media New England

    • So, uh, when’s Gatehouse removing Democrat and Chronicle (and other) ledes from’s sidebar? You know, the exact same thing you guys are bitching about the Times doing?

      • I again urge people to learn more about the facts before making broad judgments and assumptions. The Batavian’s use of one or two headlines from the Democrat and Chronicle is clearly distinguishable from the kind of conduct we addressed in our complaint and amended complaint.

        Also, the Batavian obtained permission from the D&C for such use. Getting permission from the rights holder is a key distinguishing fact.

        For a better understanding of the difference in this case, I’d urge you to also look at an expert opinion written by UCLA law professor Douglas Lichtman. The Batavian is discussed in item VI.

  • Gatehouse is selfishly poisoning the stream… The usual, customary and intended purpose of the RSS/Atom feeds that they provide on their sites is to facilitate the syndication of content in precisely the ways that they object to. Syndication feeds are a different class of format than page formats like HTML. The publisher of a syndication feed provides an implicit license to consumers of those feeds for precisely the uses that Gatehouse objects to. One might object to scrapping HTML files, but you can’t object to “scrapping” syndication feeds. That’s why they exist.
    If Gatehouse doesn’t want people to use the content of their feeds, then they shouldn’t publish them or they should protect them with passwords to prevent their access by those who use these feeds in their usual, customary, and intended manner.
    In using these specific syndication formats, Gatehouse is attempting to hijack a system built, at great expense, by others for purposes that Gatehouse seems not to approve of. Gatehouse is in no way compelled to use these formats and is free to develop its own formats and to establish systems for other intended uses.
    This is NOT a copyright issue. None of the usual, customary or intended uses of syndication feeds provide any license to generate derivative works other than those which involve display of the feed content itself. Thus, any editing of content for other than facilitative purposes is still covered by copyright and not covered by the license implied by using the format. Similarly, use of the content without providing links to the original source would also be covered by copyright since such use does not facilitate the purpose of this kind of syndication.
    If Gatehouse is successful in constraining the use of feeds to less than their usual, customary and intended purposes, then they will have done terrific damage to the entire feed eco-system — this is poisoning the stream. If they aren’t willing to live with the rules of feed syndication, then they simply shouldn’t provide feeds.

    Gatehouse: If you can’t accept the rules, get out of the game! Stop providing syndication feeds!

    bob wyman

    • Providing RSS feeds doesn’t grant the right to wholesale automated republishing of headlines and ledes on a website. One can argue that “fair use” does (Gatehouse apparently disagrees) but providing an RSS in and of itself doesn’t allow copying for republication. Personal news aggregation software is a legit use.

      • Stephen,

        The term for it is “free advertising”. It draws readers to your site. It gives you hits, visits, ad clicks. You want people to show your headlines and ledes on their blogs and pages, because the more people who see those headlines and ledes, the more visitors you get. Now, if you don’t want visitors, what are you doing here?

  • It’s also odd that JJ is glad there wasn’t a precedent, unless he thinks GateHouse would have won.

  • An industry in its’ death throws? In case your missed this sad but insightful post about the depressing internal realities facing newspapers everywhere, check this out:

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