Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dustup in Tulsa

Apparently the Tulsa World and local blogger Michael Bates are tussling over Bates' use of excerpts from the paper's stories and linking to the paper's articles.

Bates, reveling in all this, has posted a letter from John Bair, the paper's vice president, demanding that "you immediately remove any Tulsa World material from your website, to include unauthorized links to our website," etc.

The World's site is a paid subscription site. What little I've seen on Bates' site have been PDFs of World articles. That, even in the context of fair comment, is probably going too far. Excerpting does not mean posting the entire thing -- and in its original form That seems clearly abusing copyright (unless somehow you are criticizing the design, and then a case might (emphasize might) be made that you had to show the thing to understand the criticism). Update: Some later posts by Bates show that he's just linking to the World's Web-available PDFs.

On the other hand, the World's gone a little off the deep end with its demand to remove "unauthorized links to our website."

If it's a link to the World's home page, the paper is completely whacked out. And if it's deep-linking, such linking, while still being debated in some quarters, is pretty much becoming the norm. And in this case, it's a subscription site, so deep linking doesn't do much anyhow but drive people to the subscription page.

All the World's done with this standard legal-speak letter is create more kindling for the blog world to flame off and allowed another opening for the upstarts to frame the paper as big, old, clueless mainstream media (which, of course, the MSM such as CNN have started to pick up). That's foolish. Sure, tell Bates to take down the PDFs. He's out of line there. But jeez, understand that in the online biz, you want people driven to your content. Try dialing 1-800-Rent-a-clue.

(But I suspect Tulsa is like many papers, and so when it talks about a $500 million higher education bond issue, you'd have a hard time finding a link back to the legislation or any other relevant documents. The concept of linking really still escapes most papers' radar. I suspect that because I can't tell you -- I really don't care to pay for a subscription when I can get pretty much what I want to know about Tulsa elsewhere.)

More background:
(Profile of Bates, a GOP convention delegate, on Gawker. Standing next to him in the photo, according to the entry on his blog, is Dawn Eden, who has been in the news herself of late because of a dustup at the N.Y. Post.)


At 2/19/05, 11:42 PM, Blogger Michael Bates said...

I'd just like to emphasize: I do not have any of the PDFs in question resident on; I linked to the PDFs, which are on and were, until earlier today, open and accessible to anyone on the web. (Just today they modified to limit access to the PDFs to their subscribers. Fair enough.) Here is a Google search showing that I have exactly four PDF files on my site, none of them consisting of Tulsa World content. I hope you will correct your entry to reflect the fact that the PDFs are not resident on my site.

I also do not have the full text of any Tulsa World articles on my website. My practice has consistently been to excerpt and comment, then to link back to the PDF on the World's server containing the article's text, so that my readers can see the whole thing in its original context.

At 2/20/05, 3:56 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Yes, Michael. I'd hoped I'd made that clear with the boldface update in the original post before you put in this comment.


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