Newspapers To Court: We Don't Care About TheFlyOnTheWall, But Please Don't Take Away Our Hot News

from the they-will-regret-this dept

Yesterday we wrote about Google and Twitter's amicus brief in the infamous FlyOnTheWall hot news case, and the folks over at the Associated Press were kind enough to send over a link to the amicus brief from a huge coalition of newspapers. Basically, every big US newspaper or newspaper organization signed on to this one, including the Associated Press, AFP, the NY Times, the Washington Post, Gannett, McClatchy, Belo, Scripps, Time, and the Newspaper Association of America (just to catch everyone else). Considering that the AP has been leading the charge to bring back hot news, you can probably guess where this one is going:
The short summary? "We don't care about TheFlyOnTheWall or Barclays or this specific case, but we're scared to death that you might make a ruling that says the hot news doctrine should go away."

I'm still sort of amazed that any serious news organization supports the hot news doctrine, because it's almost guaranteed to come back and bite them if it is regularly used again. All of the newspapers above rely on rewriting news from other publications to some extent, whether they admit it or not. If they really support this, they're going to run into trouble themselves, even if they're apparently unwilling to admit it. It's incredibly short-sighted.

Also weird is the claim that these newspapers "rely" on hot news today. They don't. Sure, the hot news doctrine has technically been around for about a century, but it's barely been used at all in the last few decades. It was, for all intents and purposes, a dead doctrine that many considered not worth keeping around (pdf). To claim that these organizations have relied on the hot news doctrine is ridiculous, because it's barely been showing up in court until recently.

Either way, it looks like lots of parties who are concerned about "hot news" have realized that TheFlyOnTheWall case has become ground zero for whether or not "hot news" is actually allowed.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 7:29am

    How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

    I have one for this case ...

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 7:54am

      Re: How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

      I think it involves sending pizza and a stripper along with your "letter" (green ones work best) to the judge.

       

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        lobo santo's ugly bowling shoes, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 8:55am

        Re: Re: How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

        green strippers are an affront to legitimate news organizations everywhere and green pizza would likely make the court sick. if it weren't for idiot bloggers like the masnick there would be no need for the hot news doctrine.

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re: How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

          "if it weren't for idiot bloggers like the masnick there would be no need for the hot news doctrine."

          Yeah those idiot bloggers always pointing out where the logic, facts, or story fails.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 9:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

            they're always pointing out things that show they don't have the entire story. they are also notorious for just stealing entire headlines and articles.

             

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        Greg G, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re: How do you file a friends of the court brief ???

        And if the pizza is delivered by the stripper, that's even better.

        And don't forget the 12 pack of Leini's summer beers.

         

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    RobShaver (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Can someone explain exactly what the "Hot News" doctrine is?

    Before the Internet, if two newspapers published an article on the same breaking news item, is one violating the hot news doctrine? That seems pretty likely to happen on every big story.

    In the current Internet era, what's the criteria? If there's an earthquake and I publish a little piece on my blog before anyone else, do I "own" the news for that earthquake?

    If that's anywhere close to the truth then I suggest we set up a "Hot News" web site where anyone can become a "reporter". Part of the registration might be a short questionnaire/test to prove you know how to be a "real journalist".

    When something happens that you see, publish it on that site. Then, if it's first, you get to share in the revenue from suing the newspapers that violate your "hot news" rights.

    Let's turn it around on them. Let's give them a dose of their own medicine. I think thousands of folks would want to participate in that. I know I would. Post right from your smart phone. Even on-the-scene video interviews.

    Maybe this is a good idea even without the suing part. Ad revenue could be shared. Somebody must be doing this already. Anyone know of such a site?

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 10:14am

      Re: Can someone explain exactly what the "Hot News" doctrine is?

      Before the Internet, if two newspapers published an article on the same breaking news item, is one violating the hot news doctrine? That seems pretty likely to happen on every big story.

      No. Others can publish the same news story, but only if they have a reporter re-do the reporting legwork. What they can't do is report it *based* on the original story -- at least for a certain period of time, e.g., "one news cycle."

      In the current Internet era, what's the criteria? If there's an earthquake and I publish a little piece on my blog before anyone else, do I "own" the news for that earthquake?

      If they get a reporter to go and do their own report, then no. But if their only source for the earthquake is your blog, then perhaps yes.

       

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        ethorad (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 5:40am

        Re: Re: Can someone explain exactly what the "Hot News" doctrine is?

        Interesting, I always assumed it was more of a blanket ban - kind of enforcing scoops. Didn't realise you could still publish under the hot-news regime by redoing the journalism.

        Of course, presumably one problem is what is defined as journalism? After all "copy from one is plagiarism, copy from many is research". Could you claim you were doing journalism by doing lots of research on the new item in question - such as reading lots of other news articles to add value to your readers by consolidating lots of different reports?

        I guess aggregators could also claim that they're not reporting on the event, but they're reporting that a news site is reporting on the event. So google's news story isn't "there's been an earthquake" but "AP has a story about an earthquake"

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 10:20am

      Re: Can someone explain exactly what the "Hot News" doctrine is?

      I'm in, i say we put it on a google site just to spite them so it is aggregated. Then we will send them nasty grams for presettlement and file DMCA's HAHAHAHAHA

       

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    byteme, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 9:26am

    They have no intention of using the "Hot News" doctrine in a court of law. Instead, as long as it remains on the books, they can make use of it to bully smaller players and bloggers by sending legal nastygrams. That's why they want to keep it around.

     

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    Rooker, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    The logical conclusion...

    I can't wait for this to come back and bite them on the ass. If they win, they most likely put themselves straight out of business, because they'll never be allowed to publish breaking news again.

    How long were people on Twitter reading about an airplane floating in the Hudson before any journalists wrote anything about it? How many videos of Tehran burning last year had been viewed on YouTube and how many people were reading #IranElection before any hint of trouble showed up at any place claiming to be a news organization?

    If anyone owned rights to claim "Hot News" on any of that, it was Twitter. Do these dimwits want to be forced to pay up to @biz and @ev every time they print something from now on?

     

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    known coward, Jun 25th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    i do not know much about the hot news doctrine

    but as it is described, i kinda like it.

    I mean if a paper goes out and gets a story, and unless someone else goes out and research, the original source gets a one day, and one day only lead, I am ok with that. It meets the constitutional intent of giving someone a short advantage for doing the leg work in distributing News (news can be a useful art) that benefits the entire community. They get the credit for researching and reporting the story, and the people get the story, the next day other organizations can rewrite and not report, but day 1, the hard work deserves a pat on the back.

     

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