Publishers sue Gator over pop-up ads

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Alexandria, Va.--A group of publishers this week sued the beleaguered Gator online advertising network in a bid to bar the company from serving pop-up ads on their Web sites without their permission.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Dow Jones and seven other publishers, alleges that Gator's ads violate their copyrights and steal revenue. According to the filing, "Gator sells advertising space on the plaintiffs' Web sites without [their] authorization and pockets the profits from such sales."

In a statement issued Thursday, Gator CEO Jeff McFadden said the company will vigorously defend itself against the suit, and may countersue, adding that the suit is "baseless."

Last year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents more than 100 content sites that rely on ad revenue, criticized Gator for selling banner ads that obscure those sold by online publishers.

Gator develops software that manages passwords for about 10 million Web surfers, who often download the application unwittingly through other popular file-sharing programs.

--Matthew Schwartz

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