Hyper-local hits hyper-trouble

Posted by on Dec 23, 2008 in Strategy

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One of The Boston Globe’s new hyper-local Web sites has run into hot water with GateHouse Media, which claims that Your Town Newton has been stealing headlines from GateHouse’s Wicked Local Newton site. GateHouse is suing the Globe’s parent, The New York Times Co., for copyright infringement.

The suit is a bit perplexing: Your Town Newton credits all items to the GateHouse pub including links. But GateHouse says that even with the linking, it’s confusing to readers about where the articles originated. And the links also bypass the GateHouse Newton site’s home page where most of the publisher’s ads reside.

GateHouse Media publishes 125 community newspapers in Massachusetts. Boston.com, the online arm of The Globe, has plans to roll out up to 100 hyper-local sites.

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The lawsuit is getting attention all over the Web, with the general consensus among Web pros being, essentially, “What could GateHouse be thinking?” The Web’s resident media curmudgeon, Jeff Jarvis, weighs in here — a sample: “The move is not just braindead, but dangerous;” Mathew Ingram of The Globe and Mail writes, “I thought the market for stupid newspaper-related activity was saturated. But apparently I was wrong.”

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Written by joe michaud