The Daily Mail is more than happy for people to share links to articles from its site — it’s an important part of it maintaining its position as a hugely popular news destination — but proxy sites that don’t link back to the Mail itself? That’s a whole different story.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers, owner of the Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT), have succeeded in getting one such proxy site, IstyOsty, to go offline after it issued a cease and desist order earlier this month, threatening to demand payments of $150,000 for each cached story if it didn’t comply.
IstyOsty, which only went online earlier this year, quickly picked up a following of social media users who wanted to vent about the Mail’s right-leaning stories, but didn’t want to pass more traffic on to the Mail as a result of linking to them.
There’s no indication of how much traffic IstyOsty was generating — and therefore how much traffic was being siphoned off from the Mail sites, which also include the Mail on Sunday.
comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) figures from April show that, after the New York Times (NYSE: NYT), the Daily Mail is the world’s second-biggest news site by traffic, with some 40 million unique visitors.
Now that IstyOsty has been shut down, a visitor to its home page is greeted with a jaunty headshot of the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, and a note that the site is down due to to legal threats. It also posts a link to the cease and desist letter from David Wright Tremaine, the lawyers representing Associated Newspapers.
A copy of that letter follows below the post. Some of the salient points that it makes are that the works IstyOsty reproduced are subject to copyright, that the site was deliberately trying to take page hits away from Mail sites, and that it improperly used “titles and other identifying information” belonging to the newspapers to flag content.
It goes on to say that if IstyOsty doesn’t shut up shop by August 15, then Associated Newspapers would bring claims against the site, to the total of $150,000 per piece of content.
What’s interesting about the letter is that it comes from U.S. lawyers, even though Associated Newspapers (and possibly IstyOsty itself) is based in London. The Next Web points out that this might be because IstyOsty has a .com domain name, which is administered in the U.S.
And what about those users who want to keep ranting about the Daily Mail, but without giving it more traffic? IstyOsty also handily lists other ways to sites that help users bypass straight URL links, or to at least curtail what information can be gleaned by online companies you do not want to support. The options include installing Kittenblock (for Chrome or Firefox); taking screenshots; getting Adblock to block ads; and Ghostery to block analytics.