By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

One way to get free content

BostonNOW, the new freebie commuter tab, has attracted a lot of attention for its goal of loading up on local blog content. Participating bloggers wouldn’t be paid right away, but might share in BostonNOW’s revenues somewhere down the line.

Well, guess what? Boing Boing caught BostonNOW running an item from the Bostonist without permission. BostonNOW provided credit and a link, but obviously that’s not good enough. It was especially stupid given that the Bostonist, unlike most Boston-area blogs, is a commercial, profit-seeking enterprise. BostonNOW editor John Wilpers has apologized and said it won’t happen again. Meanwhile, we await BostonNOW’s first authorized blog item.

You can read Wilpers’ apology here. (Via Universal Hub.)

More: We talked about BostonNOW’s prospects Friday on “Greater Boston.” The video should pop up here at some point. I also shared my thoughts on BostonNOW recently with Paul McMorrow of the Weekly Dig.

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  1. Lisa Williams

    Were they just quoting, or did they reprint the full text of a post? None of the posts seem to say. My project,, indexes most of the Metroblogging and -ist sites, including Bostonist. We show a headline plus 200 characters, which is the same as what you’d see from a page in Google search results — not enough to read, but enough to help you understand if you want to click on the link. Placeblogger isn’t a place to read placeblogs, but a place to find them. We want to send people away, not keep them. Lifting fulltext isn’t cool and unless a blogger gives permission isn’t legal. But I believe polite aggregation — modest quoting and linking — benefits the sites that are being quoted and linked to. Heck, linking and quoting is basically the engine that powers the blogosphere.So, what’s the story here? Did BostonNOW reprint the entirety of a blog entry, or did they just quote from it?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    I’ve e-mailed Jon Petitt asking for more information. But obviously BostonNOW went well beyond fair use or Wilpers wouldn’t be apologizing.

  3. adamg

    Download Thursday’s edition (caution: 18.5M file!) and look at page 5 – they excerpt three Bostonist posts in a shaded column that says “BOSTONIST.COM BLOGS” that sure would make me think they had permission to run the items – and went beyond just excerpting, say, a single item.’Course, I’m probably the last person to talk, given that I excerpt other blogs on Universal Hub, but not like that.

  4. Anonymous

    So theft is now “unauthorized lifting”?

  5. Anonymous

    Remember 11:08, that which is “Grand Theft Auto” in other states is “Using a vehicle without authority” in MA, opening you up to “Double Secret Probation” or loss of dessert.

  6. Christopher King

    As a former editor and reporter, I note in my blawg entry that the writing is not on the wall for newspapers, rather it is on the Internet. key to BostonNOW melding the print/online realms is current news content. Sometimes I offer that as well, but I am up in NH at present. some bloggers will have good editorial content as well, but as time goes on bloggers will be up in the courtroom and covering other newsworthy matters quite regularly because it is indeed the wave of the future. Payment concerns aside, and the fact that one of the editors is writing my biography as a Civil Rights Lawyer and activist, BostonNOW is looking to the future, totally.To quote First Amendment lawyer Jonathan Kaney, “There’s no privacy in a public courtroom!”

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