Can You Copyright News Headlines?
from the seems-like-fair-use... dept
We usually try to come up with better, more interesting or more to the point headlines for stories we post to Techdirt than what’s found in the original article. One interesting side effect of this, is I can often tell when another site has taken the story from here, as they often take our headline directly. Of course, this doesn’t bother me at all (it’s actually kind of cool). However, a Japanese newspaper apparently feels otherwise. They sued a web portal for copying their news headlines. A judge, however, has ruled against the newspaper, claiming that the headlines only stated facts, and could not be considered “creative expressions”. Of course, as someone who puts some thought into the headlines here, I do take a bit of offense at the notion of headlines not being creative expressions. I do, however, think that using the headlines should almost definitely be a fair use situation – though, copyright laws in Japan may be quite different than they are here. Still, it does raise an interesting question in general. If the “copying” site takes the headlines for their own (or other) articles is that still okay? I can’t see how anyone would complain about headlines that are just links back to an original story. But, if a site consistently steals good headlines, but puts it with their own story (with no link or credit), does it still fall within fair use? What if two people come up with the identical headline completely separately?