Gawker, Palin Publisher Settle

Just in case you missed this over the Thanksgiving weekend (and, let’s face it, there were a lot of football games to watch) HarperCollins and the Web site Gawker settled their dust up over Gawker’s posting of 21 pages of Palin’s new book “America By Heart” prior to its publication. Before the case was settled a federal court in New York had issued a temporary restraining order against Gawker and ordered the excerpts removed from the site. Gawker didn’t find itself in trouble for “leaking” the content before it was published, rather it was accused of violating the copyright. Gawker’s decision to reproduce the actual content, rather than paraphrasing it, was its undoing. Information can’t be copyrighted, but expression can. So if Gawker had relayed whatever valuable information is contained in the book using its own words, no problem. But by using Palin’s (or her ghost writer’s) own words, it crossed the line. You betcha. It’s a good reminder of what I tell people in seminars a lot. The medium is different, but the old rules still apply. Just ask Gawker.