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GateHouse: Don’t Link Me, That’s Wicked!

by Sachin Balagopalan on December 23, 2008 · 1 comment

You can’t even make this up… Gatehouse Media, which owns a number of local newspapers across Massachusetts is suing the New York Times for linking to its content. Yes that’s right, they are suing the NYT for essentially directing traffic to their news sites. The Boston Globe and it’s online arm Boston.com, owned by the NYT, recently started a new site called Your Town that features a network of hyper-local websites serving the Greater Boston area. These town websites basically combine news from the Boston Globe and aggregate links to other local news sources that are relevant to the respective towns including GateHouse’s “Wicked Local” websites.

Apparently Gatehouse is peeved because the Globe is “scraping” the headline and the first few lines of the story and providing a “deep link” directly to the story and bypassing the homepage. Here is the real issue …

In the lawsuit, the chain said the new Globe sites compete directly with its own “Wicked Local” websites. In November, the Globe’s online arm, Boston.com, launched the first in a series of experimental “hyper-local” sites in Newton, which feature a variety of local news and information, including a calendar of local events, a user-created encyclopedia of information, and real estate listings, focused on a particular community. It has since launched similar sites in Needham and Waltham and announced plans to eventually serve all of Greater Boston.

The Wicked Local websites also provide a network of hyper-local community websites and they have been around for sometime. There is no doubt they’re probably a tad concerned about the potential competition from a major player like the NYT. There is also another tiny issue - Bob Kempf, the guy in charge of Boston.com’s “Your Town” initiative used to be a VP at Wicked Local. Hmmm… perhaps this is more than just about linking?

In any case the whole thing is idiotic. Everyone knows that websites link to each other and that’s how the web works. This case is reminiscent - as Mathew Ingram points out - of court cases that occurred in the early 1990’s when people were only beginning to grasp the workings of the internet and the world wide web. It’s just unfathomable that it still happens today i.e. suing people for directing traffic to your website!


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sachin Balagopalan 12.25.08 at 1:10 pm

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