"There were half a dozen articles that -- if you want to know the truth -- I was proud of them," he says. "I didn't want them just to vanish."
So Estabrook launched his own blog, Politics of the Plate, and posted links to PDFs he had created of those pieces. "I certainly wasn't reducing their value to Condé Nast," he says. "Nor was I making any money off of them."
Nonetheless, Condé Nast took issue with the move, according to Estabrook. He says that on Friday, he received an email from Condé Nast demanding the removal of the articles. Estabrook tells MediaPost that he immediately took down links to the PDFs and replaced them with links to Gourmet.com's archives.
"There's no way I'm going to roll in the mud with these guys," he says.
As of now, it's not clear whether Estabrook's removal of the PDFs will placate Condé Nast. Estabrook says that he hasn't heard back from the publisher.
If Condé Nast owns the copyright to those pieces, the company could theoretically bring an infringement claim regarding the PDFs. But doing so would be an obvious public relations blunder -- and perhaps a legal one as well. After all, it's hard to imagine that a judge or jury would be particularly sympathetic to Condé Nast -- or any other publisher of a defunct magazine -- in an action against a freelance writer who was merely trying to keep articles that he wrote alive after the publication itself went under.
In any event, Estabrook's current links to Gourmet.com's site certainly shouldn't give rise to liability. While some publishers have sued news sites for linking to articles, many media law attorneys think that merely linking to an article and including a headline or other snippet is fair use. The argument for fair use seems especially strong when the person who posts the link is a writer who is merely trying to showcase his own work -- as opposed to a profit-seeking aggregator.