The New York Times is being sued by GateHouse Media, a publisher of mostly small, local newspapers, for copyright infringement over its linking and aggregation practices in its Boston Globe online unit.
In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Monday, Fairport, N.Y.-based GateHouse Media, which publishes more than 100 papers in Massachusetts, accuses the Times of violating copyright by allowing its Boston Globe online unit to copy verbatim the headlines and first sentences from articles published on sites owned by GateHouse, including the Newton Tab.
The links, as seen on Boston.com's Newton site for instance, lead to the original articles on the GateHouse-owned sites, which display advertising. However the lawsuit claims GateHouse is losing advertising revenue as a result of the linking because readers don't see the ads on the GateHouse site's home page.
The linking also confuses readers, leading them to believe that GateHouse endorses the linking practice, according to the lawsuit.
According Catherine Mathis, senior vice president of corporate communications at the New York Times, the linking practice is common around the web and that GateHouse Media's claim of copyright infringement does not have merit.
Many blogs and news sites like Digg aggregate hundreds and thousands of headlines from all around the web and republishes snippets of news with links back to the original source. The heart of this issue is whether the practice falls under Fair Use or not.
In a similar case last year, Google was sued by Agence France-Presse (AFP) for its practice of republishing summaries of articles in its websites as part of its Google News service. That case was settled and ended with AFP entering a licensing deal with Google.