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September 23, 2010

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What’s the Law around Aggregating News Online? A Harvard Law Report on the Risks and the Best Practices

By Kimberley Isbell

[So much of the web is built around aggregation — gathering together interesting and useful things from around the Internet and presenting them in new ways to an audience. It's the foundation of blogging and social media. But it's also the subject of much legal debate, particularly among the news organizations whose material is often what's being gathered and presented. Kimberley Isbell of our friends the Citizen Media Law Project has assembled a terrific white paper on the current state of the law surrounding aggregation — what courts have approved, what they haven't, and where the (many) grey areas still remain. This should be required reading for anyone interested in where aggregation and linking are headed.

You can get the full version of the paper (with footnotes) here; I've added some links for context. This work was derived in part from CMLP's spring conference, where I was lucky enough to speak; we'll be presenting some more content from that conference in the coming days. And finally, if this kind of subject interests you, you should think about attending CMLP's upcoming conference in Atlanta on "Media Law in the Digital Age," done in conjunction with our other friends at the Center for Sustainable Journalism. —Josh]

During the past decade, the Internet has become an important news source for most Americans. According to a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, as of January 2010, nearly 61 percent of Americans got at least some of their news online in a typical day. This increased reliance on the Internet as a source of news has coincided with declining profits in the traditional media and the shuttering of newsrooms in communities across the country. Some commentators look at this confluence of events and assert that, in this case, correlation equals causation — the Internet is harming the news business.

Read more.