When some newspapers just don’t get the web

Newspaper and tea

Image by Matt Callow via Flickr

Sometimes people just don’t understand how the Internet works. It’s really evident in the GateHouse Media lawsuit against the New York Times:

“Boston.com’s local pages, like hundreds of other news sites, aggregate headlines and snippets of relevant stories published on the Web. They link back to the originating site where the interested user can read the entire article,” she wrote in a statement.
“Far from being illegal or improper, this practice of linking to sites is common and is familiar to anyone who has searched the Web,” Mathis wrote. “It is fair and benefits both Web users and the originating site.”

Here the New York Times is exactly correct. From a perspective of just headlines and first sentences, that has always been fair-use in the aspect of blogging, websites, and the like. And by precedence, this has been a set rule pretty much since… well…the dark ages of the Internet. To think that headlines and first sentences is violating copyright is absolutely preposterous.
Now I can totally see violation of copyright if they did a verbatim dump. Without prior permission and no credit, this would be plagiarism at best and copyright violation at worst. But headlines and first sentence with links back to the original article give the original article full credit. That’s the blogger way, not to mention the Internet way.
I’m not sure how GateHouse will pull this off, but I’ll be surprised if they do. From the Internet’s perspective, it seems like the NYT has the weight of history behind them.

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