New York Times Sued Over Links To News Articles

December 23, 2008 – 2:07 pm

by Darren

The New York Times has been sued over linking to news articles from The Boston Globe’s website. The practice of linking to news article is quite common on the web, especially among bloggers.

Boston.com said Tuesday that The New York Times Co. violated copyrights on the stories by pasting verbatim headlines and first sentences from GateHouse papers on the Globe sites.

The Boston Globe is owned by The New York Times Company. GateHouse owns 125 smaller Massachusetts papers.

The New York Times argued it was adding value to its’ own service and the Globe’s with the links. They called it merely “news aggregation.”

Gatehouse argued that the Times bypassed technology on their website to included the headlines, which is copyrighted material.

Of course this calls into question the legality of many types of websites that link. This includes Google, who displays search snippets, bloggers who link to news articles and copy snippets, and popular websites like NewsVine that aggregate news by linking to the original articles.

Further making this a test case, Gatehouse is objecting to the use of deep links as part of their suit.

If GateHouse were to have its way with its deep link argument, it would create a legal precedent that makes the act of linking to a copyrighted article illegal. It could mean a crippling of sites such as Romenesko and the Drudge Report, which can bring in enormous amounts of readers while being primarily built upon links to someone else’s expensive-to-create content. But, if enforced, it would also cut off the voluminous flow of readers who arrive to news sites via search engines and aggregators. That, too, has an effect on the bottom line.

A change in this direction would be unprecedented on the web. Every day it seems as more freedoms that are considered part of internet culture are being challenged in law. As company’s face dwindling revenue streams and increased competition, it’s likely we’ll be seeing many more such cases as publishers look to vacuum up pennies from the web.

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