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14:43

‘The imperatives of the news cycle’: A licence to steal?

Last week we highlighted some of the criticism being directed at Rolling Stone magazine for its decision to hold off publishing the now notorious General McChrystal article online.

The magazine’s hold-for-the-newsstand tactic led Time.com and Politico to make full PDF copies of the printed article available through their websites – copies which were not provided directly by Rolling Stone, as was first thought, but by third parties.

In the wake of Rolling Stone’s much-derided decision, New York Times’ Media Equation blogger David Carr turns his attention to the behaviour of Time.com and Politico, which later linked back to Rolling Stone’s website when the magazine finally published online.

Publishing a PDF of somebody else’s work is the exact opposite of fair use: these sites engaged in a replication of a static electronic document with no links to the publication that took the risk, commissioned the work and came up with a story that tilted the national conversation. The technical, legal term for what they did is, um, stealing.

Jim VandeHei, executive editor and a founder of Politico, defended the site’s move by claiming that “the imperatives of the news cycle superseded questions of custody”.

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