Hot News Is Back: Court Blocks Website From Reporting The News
from the first-amendment? dept
Unfortunately, with various publications struggling, some have picked up on the hot news doctrine as a way to somehow block competition. Tragically, it looks like a court has now adopted the hot news doctrine in one case. Paul Alan Levy alerts us to the news that a judge issuing an injunction against TheFlyOnTheWall.com, a website that would publish summaries of Wall Street research. The Wall Street firms said this undermined their business model -- and the court agreed. It passed an injunction saying that TheFlyOnTheWall had to hold off publishing any news about any Wall Street research report until either 10am (if the report is released early in the morning) or for two hours after it's released if it comes out during the day.
These totally arbitrary restrictions are highly troubling from a free speech standpoint and seem effectively random. This seems like yet another case of a company being upset by interference with its business model, which should be a reason to change the business model -- not run to the courts.
But what's most troubling of all is that now all the publishers who have been salivating over the hot news doctrine have a legal ruling to point to. Can you imagine how the world would work if you couldn't blog about or mention a particular piece of news for a few hours because the Associated Press got to it first? It's hard to see how this could possibly stand up to a First Amendment analysis, and it's quite troubling that the judge found the way she did.