Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gawker removes Palin pages, settles lawsuit with HarperCollins

Not the first time Gawker and sister sites have faced legal challenges
HarperCollins says in a statement released Wednesday that the book publisher and the owners of a Soros-funded snarky leftist website have resolved the lawsuit HC had filed over a Gawker post which displayed photographed pages from Sarah Palin‘s America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag.

Over the weekend, a federal judge ordered Gawker to remove the excerpts.

Here is the full HarperCollins statement:
HarperCollins has reached an agreement with Gawker resolving the lawsuit it filed against Gawker on Friday over Gawker’s unauthorized posting of pages from Sarah Palin’s then-unpublished book, America by Heart, which goes on sale today. In the suit, HarperCollins alleged that Gawker’s postings infringed the copyright in the book, and violated HarperCollins’ exclusive publication rights. On Saturday afternoon, Judge Thomas Griesa of the US District Court in Manhattan entered a temporary restraining order against Gawker. In an opinion issued yesterday, Judge Grisea stated that “the purpose of the copyright law is to prevent the kind of copying that has taken place here.” Judge Grisea’s opinion also said that Gawker “published what amounts to a substantial portion of the book” but “essentially engaged in no commentary or discussion”, and that it had “not used the copyrighted material to help create something new but has merely copied the material in order to attract viewers.” Immediately after the hearing, Gawker removed the offending pages from its web site as the Judge ordered.

In settling the case, Gawker has agreed to keep the posted material off its web site and not to post the material again in the future.

HarperCollins is gratified that it was able to resolve the dispute in this way. HarperCollins does welcome public commentary on its books so long as any book content is utilized in a manner that is consistent with the law.
At The Cutline, Michael Calderone oberved this is not the only instance of Gawker and its fellow traveler websites have been in legal hot water:
In a July profile of Gawker attorney Gaby Darbyshire, the New York Observer's John Koblin wrote that "the number of cease-and-desist complaints she has received has skyrocketed since 2007," with over 600 complaints against Gawker Media in the past three years. "Nevertheless," he continued, "Gawker very-very-rarely pulls down a post and only infrequently has legal problems that escalate."

This year, Gawker sites have run into controversy after posting images of Apple's next-generation iPhone prototype (Gizmodo), quarterback Brett Favre's "seductive" voicemails to a Jets sideline reporter (Deadspin), and an anonymous account of a Halloween night spent with former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell (Gawker). None of those posts were pulled. So the Palin item certainly qualifies as a "very-very-rare" example.
- JP

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