AP and Newspapers Settle Suit Against Web Sites

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Several newspapers and The Associated Press have settled a copyright infringement lawsuit against the operator of a collection of Web sites, the news organizations announced Friday.

The Police News Publishing Co., Breck Porter and six affiliated Web sites had been accused of accessing the news content of the organizations without their authorization and posting it on the Web sites, where advertising appears. The content was then archived; the archiving, publication, distribution and display of the content all violated the news organizations’ copyright, according to the suit.

Porter, of Galveston, was the editor of the various Web sites.

In addition to the AP, the other plaintiffs were the Houston Chronicle, The Beaumont Enterprise, the San Antonio Express-News, as well as Hearst Corp., which owns all three of those papers. The Galveston County Daily News, The Brazosport Facts, The Baytown Sun and The Tribune of Bay City were also plaintiffs in the case.

Under a settlement agreement, Porter and his Web sites will only be able to copy the headline and up to the first two sentences of any stories from the newspapers. The Web sites can copy and publish only headlines and the first paragraph from AP stories provided to them by the news service.

All stories used by the Web sites must be attributed to their original sources and include a copyright notice and link to the original work.

The suit was filed in federal court in Houston in April.

Jonathan Donnellan, an attorney for the news organizations, and Thomas McQuage, Porter’s attorney, did not immediately return telephone calls Friday seeking comment.

Under the settlement agreement, the AP and the newspapers would not collect any damages and both sides would pay their own attorneys’ fees.

The news organizations said they made several attempts to reach out to Porter before filing the lawsuit to stop the alleged misappropriation but that Porter failed to remove content he had already posted and continued to post more.

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