The copyright lawsuit between GateHouse Media and The New York Times Co. over linking articles on the Internet was settled this week, just one day before trial was to begin in the case.
GateHouse sued The New York Times Co. last month after The Boston Globe, which the Times Co. owns, began aggregating on its Web site headlines, leads and links from local news sites owned by GateHouse.
The settlement agreement reached on Sunday, which is preliminary, stipulates that Boston.com must remove all headlines and leads that were originally published by GateHouse and stop using an RSS feed to aggregate GateHouse news content. However, the agreement specifically states that it will still be permissible for both parties to continue linking to each other’s stories.
Additionally, the settlement requires that GateHouse implement “one or more commercially reasonable technological solutions” to prevent Boston.com from automatically pulling its content.
In its initial complaint, GateHouse alleged that a new Boston.com hyper-local Web site called “Your Town” automatically pulled news content from various GateHouse publications and sites providing news and information on the Boston area.
But shortly after the complaint was filed, The New York Times Co. filed a counterclaim alleging that GateHouse brought the lawsuit as a way to obtain an “improper competitive advantage.” As evidence, The Times Co. offered e-mail written by GateHouse executives with statements to this effect.
One e-mail from Greg Reibman, editor of the Newton TAB and 11 other GateHouse publications, stated that GateHouse needed to “do all we can to make sure the Globe fails here before they roll this out to other communities.”
Additionally, The Times Co. proffered other evidence showing that GateHouse engaged in similar conduct as Boston.com by taking content from and linking to other Web sites.
A final version of the initial three-page settlement agreement is expected to be complete by Jan. 30. The federal court in Massachusetts dismissed the case as a result of the settlement.