07 July 2010

Colorado Newspapers Declare War On Blogs

A coalition of newspapers in Colorado has declared war on Colorado Pols, sending it a cease and desist order over the fact that it uses selected quotations and links to their free online news sites and then comments on those sites.

Since this is pretty much what political bloggers do, this is a rather serious issue, not just for Colorado Pols, but for the entire blogosphere.

The claim of intellectual property rights in "hot news" and the claim of copyright violation despite fair use limitations on those rights are dubious, at best. The cease and desist letter is an abuse of the legal process. Copyright does not protect facts or ideas, it protects particular expressions of those facts and ideas. It also also limited "fair use" for purposes such as political discussion and criticism. And, mere links have generally been held not to constitute a use of any kind for copyright purposes. Some of the thin thread of case law behind the hot news doctrine can be found here. Don't take my word on the shaky basis of the "hot news" doctrine, ask Google's lawyers. Also, even under the alleged "hot news" doctrine, it isn't at all obvious that Colorado Pols or other blogs would be violation of it.

Of course, if the papers want to keep their material limited access it is easy for them to do so. They can limit access to paid subscribers and some publications do. There is no need to resort to legal recourse to accomplish that end if they are serious about it.

Perhaps they think that bloggers are making big money by linking to newspaper stories, trust me. They aren't.

It also abandons the status quo newspaper business model that recognized that blogs drive traffic to newspapers and their advertisers, rather than reducing traffic. On the Internet, relevance is all about having other people link to you.

But, Colorado Pols, rather than fight, has chosen to honor their request.

The offending parties are:

# The Denver Post
# Boulder Daily Camera
# Ft. Morgan Times
# Journal-Advocate (Sterling)
# The Lamar Ledger

# The Colorado Springs Gazette

# Eagle Valley Enterprise
# Glenwood Springs Post Independent
# Grand Junction Free Press
# Greeley Tribune
# NOCOpages.com
# Snowmass Sun
# Sky-Hi Daily News
# Summit Daily News
# The Aspen Times
# The Citizen Telegram
# Vail Daily
# Windsor Now

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

One of my favorite sites: TechDirt has commented on this.


"AP, MediaNews Boss Sends Legal Threat To Blog For Quoting Colorado Newspapers"

My take: Dinky Singleton is stupid.