Monday, October 03, 2005

COPYRIGH: In 1998, Knight-Ridder sues Ft. Wayne ISP over "framing" of content


"We endorse the free flow of information on the Internet, but we
strongly believe in accurate representation of the source of
information and appropriate commercial use by the owner of the
Carolyn Hughes,
vice president, sales and marketing,
Fort Wayne Newspapers

Friday, May 15, 1998

Name Three Web Site Operators

by David Noack

Two Indiana daily newspapers and the business agency that represents
them have filed suit against a trio of Internet firms they charge with
trademark violations for allegedly "framing" their online content.

On May 4, the Journal Gazette, the News-Sentinel and the Fort Wayne
Newspapers agency filed the suit in federal district court in the
Northern District of Indiana against three Fort Wayne-based Internet
firms. Those defendants are: TEK Interactive Group Inc., a corporate
Web site developer; Midwest Internet Exchange Inc., an Internet
Service Provider and Web site hosting company; and Internet Data
Resources Corporation (IDR), the owner of the Web site.

"Framing" involves the use of a Web site structure that allows a
remote site's content to be displayed as if it were a part of the
framing site's content. For instance, a story from a remote newspaper
site is displayed with a screen or "frame" that often contains
advertising, promotional materials or other content of the framing

The Journal Gazette, a locally owned paper, and the News-Sentinel, a
Knight Ridder paper, are Fort Wayne's two daily newspapers. Both
operate under a joint operating agreement (JOA), maintaining separate
editorial staffs and policies while sharing business functions such as
advertising, circulation, marketing and production. The joint
operations are managed by JOA agent corporation, Fort Wayne

14-Page Filing

In a 14-page legal filing, the two newspapers and business agent
contend that the Web site, "frames" the content of their
newspaper Web site, blocking out the newspapers' Web address and

Dan Turkette, a senior partner at TEK Interactive, said they intend to
contest the newspapers' lawsuit.

"What they (the newspapers and business agent) wanted prior to filing
the suit was that we sign in federal court a consent decree that says
that we'll never link to them again. The reason that we don't want to
sign that is that we don't want to put that kind of burden on the
industry by setting a precedent. If they had made a more reasonable
offer, like don't link to us in frames, we might have considered
that," said Turkette.

TotalNEWS Suit: Same Issue

The controversial issue of framing content on the Web has been a major
-- but unresolved issue -- over the past couple of years. The framing
firestorm ignited when six major media organizations, including Time
Warner, the Washington Post and Reuters New Media among others sued an
Arizona-based Web site news aggregator called TotalNEWS. TotalNEWS
ultimately capitulated, settling the case with an agreement to stop
framing the plaintiff's content.

However, the larger legal questions raised by the "framing" versus
"linking" debate were not resolved.

Randall Brown, an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg who is representing
the newspapers, said that since the lawsuit was filed, the Fort Wayne
Internet companies' Web site has been changed so the newspapers'
content is currently not framed.

"The defendants have modified their site and are now providing what
appear to be direct links without any framing, which is what we wanted
them to do from the very start," said Brown.

"The infringing site relies upon the copyrighted content of the Fort
Wayne Newspapers' Web sites to attract readers and to subject those
readers to defendants' advertising.... For no more than their own
profit, defendants are looting plaintiffs' marks, which symbolize the
strength of their respective reputations for high quality news
reporting, and the copyrighted material in which each plaintiff has
invested heavily to create and display," reads part of the lawsuit. In
addition to asking the court to prohibit the framing of the
newspapers' content, undisclosed financial damages are also being

To Brown, there is a major difference between linking and framing a
Web site.

"Linking is going from one site to another -- a pathway -- in a sense.
Framing limits the viewer's access. The viewer can go to the other
site, but it's still controlled by the originating site and that's the
problem we have here, or had here --framing created the impression
that our copyrighted materials were somehow related to the infringing
site," said Brown.

Conflict of Domain Names

In addition, said Brown, there is also a domain name issue involved in
the case. The newspaper has applied to register its domain name,, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Web site
named in the lawsuit has as its domain name,

"So there is a subtle difference in terms of the letters that appear
on the page. From the eyes of the ordinary user, I have tended myself
to call it, because I need to distinguish it somehow. The
ordinary viewer looks at that and says," said Brown.

Carolyn Hughes, vice president of sales and marketing for Fort Wayne
Newspapers, said that while a user is looking at content from the
newspapers, they are also seeing a different Internet address.

"This lawsuit is not about linking one Web site to another. We endorse
the free flow of information on the Internet, but we strongly believe
in accurate representation of the source of information and
appropriate commercial use by the owner of the content," said Hughes.

"They framed our site.... Within their page they had their advertising
and their URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and our news," said Hughes.

David and Goliath?

For its part, the owners of the Web site are using cyberspace to make
their case, displaying a color image of a giant Goliath (Knight
Ridder) battling against the Internet companies, which are depicted as

A statement posted on the Web site explains why the local
news content was linked to and that major media companies fear the

"Back in July of last year (1997), as a service to the Netizens of
Fort Wayne we started linking to all of the local news content we
could find. It was a way for the local citizens of Fort Wayne to find
all of the headlines in one spot. No longer would they have to look
each of the four (4) television sites, the seven (7) radio station
sites and two (2) newspaper sites to find what they wanted. Enter
Knight-Ridder, the big bad Goliath of the newspaper industry. As with
most newspapers, they have a fear of the Internet usurping their
monopolistic hold on news delivery," reads a statement on the Web

Turkette said the charges that the Web site is a commercial operation
are untrue.

"This is not a commercial site. Anyone who wants to put a link to
their own site can do it, all they have to do is provide a graphic in
the form of their logo or banner. Some people may deem that
advertising, but it's a link. No one collects any fees. There has
never been a dime generated from that Web site. It's simply a
gathering place for the community for information on the city of Fort
Wayne and for people who can't afford to pay a fee to post a Web
site," said Turkette.

~ ~ ~

David Noack is associate editor of E&P's publications.

Return to Editor & Publisher Interactive News Page

© 1998, Editor & Publisher.


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