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The Newspaper conglomerates think their readers are idiots May 6, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in lawyer speak, newspaper business, phillysnews.com, Pontification.
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We recieved an interesting letter from someone named Suzanne Mitchell Parillo who works for Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc which apparently owns "The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and its affiliate web site." It appears they have the Philadelphia news market cornered and are not going to stand for any foolishness from citizen's journalism or whatever its being called these days.

We have learned that your company recently began using the domain name
www.phillysnews.com in an apparent effort to divert users of the Web
Site to your web site. Your use of this domain name is an obvious
attempt to redirect our users to your site, and it is likely to cause
our readers to believe that PNI is the publisher of your web site, or
that PNI sponsors the content on your web site

Actually we didn't do what you describe here. We have a network of websites around the country that use the city nickname and then an 'S' to denote possessive case.

www.nashvillesnews.net
www.tucsonsnews.com
www.newyorksnews.com
www.lasnews.com
www.indianasnews.com
www.pittsburghsnews.com
etc. and about 25 more like that

ect ect

The site www.phillysnews.com was setup just recently and is in keeping with this style and theme and has absolutely nothing to do with your newspaper.

You said:

As a business matter, PNI will not tolerate a situation in which a
third party deliberately diverts our readers to its web site. In this
case, our readers could be duped into thinking that your web site is
somehow affiliated with The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia
Daily News, and www.philly.com.

Well as I explained it is not an attempt to do anything other than continue to roll out our sites in a theme consistent with the others. I'm a bit confused by your use of a redirect to another site anyway. In other words you use the domain but redirect it to you main site. Is that correct?

Can you explain how your readers will be fooled into thinking that our use of a name that is not similar in any way to your newspaper's actual name is an attempt to 'divert' them? In any event its not our intent.

We really don't want your readers to think we are part of your newspaper. Its the opposite of what we want to convey.

Just in case we can put up a disclaimer or clarification. If you would create wording that suits explaining that we are not affiliated with you we will gladly run it in such a way that it cannot be missed.

You said

Your use of multiple links to material
published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News
reinforces that impression.

Can you be more specific?. The reason I ask is because we are a blog network and if the bloggers are actually doing something wrong we'll ask them to stop. If we are doing it editorially I will stop it immediately. I'm just not sure what you mean here. Is it the RSS? Are there actual posts by bloggers?

We have the bloggers permissions to use their feeds. However we don't know and can't control further than that. We do remove anything that is infringing and will comply if you can be more specific.We are a blog network and if the bloggers are actually doing something wrong we'll ask them to stop. If we are doing it editorially I will stop it immediately. I'm just not sure what you mean here. Is it the RSS? Are there actual posts by bloggers?

By the way this was the first time I saw this communication.

John Bransford

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