GateHouse claims victory; online reputation still suffers


In other words, Your Town can't scrape small amounts of content, but is welcome to keep on sending link love to the GateHouse sites.

Davis is presenting the agreement as a win for GateHouse, noting that "We got the relief that was the whole basis of [the lawsuit]."

I don't agree. It's not because GateHouse was unable to get the Times Co. to pay the enhanced damages and attorney's fees specified in the original complaint. It's also because GateHouse has almost certainly set itself up for being entirely excluded from the Your Town minisites, and will lose mindshare and new readers as a result. Aggregators like Techmeme and Google News are not set up to paraphrase headlines and ledes. That requires additional time and writing skills. I suspect that the Your Town staff will take the path of least resistance and simply not include any GateHouse content or links, in favor of the many blogs and other media sources that welcome having their small excerpts and links featured on a community site associated with the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

Another loss for GateHouse is its standing in the online media world. Just like AP, it has taken a huge hit. This episode may center on a group of obscure community websites, but GateHouse and the New York Times are both national publishers whose behavior is closely watched. Those who are perceived as following the philosophies of the old media world -- including the propensity to embrace litigation, as opposed to innovation -- quickly lose respect. You can see some of the ire . As someone who frequently writes about online media, and a long-time reader of the Newton Tab and Newton Tab blog (one of GateHouse properties referenced in the lawsuit), I was intrigued, and very disappointed. How could a company which up until now had shown so much in the way of Web smarts be so wrong with aggregators? , and could even lead to a "chilling effect" on other online media experiments.

Davis sees online media in a different light. "This case reminded us of the value of original reporting," he said, and aggregators like Your Town represent a threat. "If someone builds a predatory business model reliant on using volumes of someone else's original content, that is a destructive business model."