Murdoch Gets His Feet Wet In Bringing Hot News Lawsuit Against

from the and-here-we-go dept

Well, you had to know this was going to happen. In the last year, there had been an awful lot of talk about a previously considered obsolete concept of “hot news” — which created a copyright-like protection for factual information, without any statutory basis. It’s a very troubling concept that shouldn’t have any real basis in the law, but does exist due to a nearly century old Supreme Court case. Lots of news publishers have started making noises about “hot news,” and in March we had the first ruling that blocked a publication from reposting factual information under a “hot news” claim. Once that ruling was made, you had to know that more lawsuits would follow pretty quickly.

And off we go. What’s interesting here is that it appears that it’s Rupert Murdoch testing the waters this time. Murdoch, of course, has been making odd claims about Google “stealing” content, while also suggesting that fair use doesn’t exist. But rather than take on Google in court, it looks like Murdoch is targeting easier prey. Murdoch-owned Dow Jones is suing for copyright infringement and hot news appropriation. You can read the full complaint below:

Basically, the complaint is similar to TheFlyOnTheWall complaint from last month that successfully claimed “hot news.” Dow Jones claims it puts out info over its wire service, and minutes later seems to put out similar news, often using the same headline. Of course for the most part, headlines are not copyrightable, but are they covered by hot news? We may find out soon enough. The whole thing is silly of course. If Dow Jones can’t compete against some company copying its headlines and summarizing its stories, it must not be adding very much value. Suing over this is basically an admission of that very fact.

Either way, my guess is that this particular lawsuit has little to do with — or even Dow Jones and its newswires. This is Murdoch testing the waters on hot news. Of course, he may come to seriously regret doing so, given how many of his own sites probably violate the same hot news concept.

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Companies: dow jones

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Comments on “Murdoch Gets His Feet Wet In Bringing Hot News Lawsuit Against”

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Anonymous Coward says:

probably violate? is that the best you can do? after a week off i figured the masnick would come back with a material, but this is cut rate. the case appears strong enough to prosecute and with one good judgement already there it is easy to follow up. i would think you would shy away from this one considering how the courts are ruling.

Modplan (profile) says:

Stay classy Dow

2. There are other entities, including the defendant in this action, which instead base their business model substantially on the early and systemic taking of proprietary content published by media organizations like Dow Jones. Whiles those companies might derive some content from their own legitimate news-gathering operations, they also unfairly ride for free on the backs of others. By instantaneously cutting and pasting into their own products the reports of news events uncovered and verified by other news outlets at significant investment and expense, they offer a pirated product at cheaper cost.

3. To combat this unauthorized free-riding, and to preserve the strength and viability of its intellectual property and newsgathering efforts, Dow Jones is seeking relief through copyright, contract and hot news misappropriation claims. The misappropriation of news and other content not only devalues news products, it also threatens the very economic structure upon which journalistic enterprises such as Dow Jones are built and on which its customers depend.


So many things wrong with this opening statement alone. No one told them the interwebs is an inherently free rider tolerant system.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: asymmetry

True, but he has a lot of news organizations and if 10% of them are dealing with even bogus claims about them stealing headlines, he is going to take a pretty big hit to his bottom line.

The “hot news” doctrine is a lot different now than it was when it was created. We no longer have just three news organizations reporting news. If one blogger gets out a news story that happens to have the same headline as a New York Times news story the next day, he could be on the losing end of a lawsuit.

With patent trolling becoming a big deal, it seems like it may be profitable to create a website that generates headlines about every major political figure and celebrity every day and then just file suits against news organizations that happen to have a similar headline the next day.

Wait – I think I just cam up with a new business idea…

Richard says:

Whats going on with this blog?

The last few weeks I’ve noticed antagonist posts that are clearly designed to flood the thread with adolescent scribble. I could have just said trolling, but this is bigger. I’m starting to suspect that these posts are malicious in their intent, as are the posters. The overall quality of discussion has gone south. This thread is a great example of that. This is an important story. I cant think of many things more important than the first amendment being blatantly violated. Yet the first half is a silly flame war and again about someones toilet.

Maybe it’s just me but I see a consorted effort to diminish the credibility of this blog, by making it’s community look like fools.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Whats going on with this blog?

actually, what you are seeing is reverse shills attempting to drown out people who dont agree with the masnick, and in turn they are ruining things for everyone. instead of addressing issues, they attack and flood out comments from their foes. i actually think it is either mike or members of his staff that have provoked it as they are too quick on the responses like they have live monitoring or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

When you write the following: “If Dow Jones can’t compete against some company copying its headlines and summarizing its stories, it must not be adding very much value. Suing over this is basically an admission of that very fact.”

I just have to ask: Am I to believe that you wouldn’t object if an unauthorized person were selling your posts verbatim and cutting into your traffic?

I’ll go ahead and say that you or your employer would object.

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