Boston.com vs GateHouse

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Above is Boston.com’s announcement about its new local sites. It’s definitely got people talking. Will there be a battle between Boston.com and GateHouse Media?

There’s not really any more news about the Boston Globe’s latest plan to make its own hyperlocal Web sites, but Dan Kennedy’s blog, Media Nation, does a good job explaining what is wrong with this idea. 

 

It’s possible that the Globe will make everyone a winner by driving traffic to those sites. But it’s also possible that, for some stories, the headline and summary is all most people are looking for, which means they’ll stay at Boston.com. The stakes are high: both the Globe and GateHouse are trying to sell advertising on their local Web sites.

Depending on how the Globe proceeds, it could find itself facing copyright-infringement issues on two grounds:

  • GateHouse publishes its online content under a Creative Commons license, which allows other Web sites to republish stories as they see fit — a boon to bloggers. But GateHouse’s license specifically prohibits commercial use, which would seem to rule out the Globe.
  • Copyright law allows anyone to publish small snippets of someone’s content under the doctrine of fair use. A good example of that would be Google News. But the Globe might find itself challenged on the grounds that though it’s only taking a little bit, it’s nevertheless taking the most important and marketable part.

I just don’t understand how the Globe can do this. It’s really frustrating to think of all the work I do and that Boston.com might basically use my stuff but my site won’t benefit. And I can see people clicking the Boston.com site, checking out the headline and being content with that information. We live in such an immediate gratification culture that headlines with brief summaries are all people want.

How many times have we heard how hard it is to get readers to go to the jump page of an article? They don’t. Unless they are supremely interested in a topic, that also probably means they won’t click a link to read my full article if they already have the summary.

Ugh. People at work are concerned about this, as they should be. Yet part of me is thinking, okay, this is competition. That’s not a bad thing. Remember when there were three newspapers to a town? They had to compete then.

Perhaps the difference is today, the state of the newspaper industry doesn’t allow healthy competition. We aren’t competing with one another to survive, but with the Internet, an entirely different animal. Also, with the Globe’s new sites, we will be fighting for the same local advertising- something my company’s papers need to survive. We are already having issues getting advertising. The last thing we need is this.

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Filed under GateHouse related, Hmm, Newspapers in general

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