A Moron In A Hurry

June 12, 2006

People So Excited Over Shiloh, It’s Suing

Filed under: Uncategorized — nick @ 12:11 am

Gawker appears to be in some hot water with Time's lawyers over last weeks pictures of Brangelina's Shiloh. Last Tuesday Gawker reported that People magazine won the auction for the North American rights to the baby pictures by ponying up a whopping $4.1 million. In its coverage, Gawker included a thumbnail of the Hello magazine cover, a magazine that bought the rights for the pictures overseas. It wasn't long after the posting that Time's lawyers contacted Gawker and threatened legal action over copyright infringement. Reading the play-by-play provided by the emails is also quite interesting. EFF is all over this and provides a fair use analysis. Gawker has since replaced the Hello thumbnail with one of the People cover.

Though one would hope that this is a clear case of fair use, the more interesting question to me is the international flavor of the controversy. Does it make sense anymore for exclusive geographic rights agreements, like this one, if the magazines are going to post their pictures online as well as in print? And assuming this is fair use, is Gawker's behavior a real problem or is the problem that Time paid lots of money for a right that wasn't as good a deal as they thought? I'm not sure that Time actually thought about the fact that Hello's cover would be available online before their cover was, essentially robbing them of their exclusive North American rights. Such could explain what appears to be a rushed legal effort to stamp out Gawker's coverage, or perhaps it strikes me as rushed merely because their trying to defend a suspect position.

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