Journalism

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
hot news, rupert murdoch

Companies:
dow jones



Murdoch Gets His Feet Wet In Bringing Hot News Lawsuit Against Briefing.com

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 Briefing.com 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 Briefing.com 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 Briefing.com -- 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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 2:44pm

    More reason why we need a system that somehow holds judges accountable to the people. We don't need judges creating bad laws, Congress already does a good enough job at that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 2:46pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      So it's not good for people to criticize a court ruling TAM? Courts are perfect and never make bad decisions unless their rulings disagree with you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      sick of the ac troll, 21 Apr 2010 @ 5:16pm

      Re:

      "i figured the masnick would come back with a material"

      A material what? Is that the best the AC can do?

      Did you not learn anything in elemantary school about capitalization?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Quick Brown Fox, 21 Apr 2010 @ 3:16pm

    Why are there so many Anonymous Cowards in the room? Is creative thinking in such short supply that more distinctive pseudonyms are not possible?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Enator, 21 Apr 2010 @ 3:23pm

    DOW scrapes headlines and content from others.

    Stupid Stupid Stupid lawsuit

    I'd like to point out that DOW JONES does this ALL THE TIME.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 21 Apr 2010 @ 3:29pm

    The examples of verbatim copying in the complaint are pretty damning - Dow will probably win this on that basis alone, regardless of the hot news charge.

    I wonder if Briefing had waited an hour to post the headlines, does it still count as hot news?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Modplan (profile), 21 Apr 2010 @ 3:44pm

    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.

    TAM?

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Beta, 21 Apr 2010 @ 3:51pm

    asymmetry

    "[Murdoch] may come to seriously regret [this], given how many of his own sites probably violate the same hot news concept."

    There's a biiiig difference between a case that Rupert Murdoch can win, and a case that you could win against Rupert Murdoch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 22 Apr 2010 @ 7:41am

      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...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 5:20pm

    This is just horrible!

    My toilet is clogged.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Well.........................

    ......does ANYONE have a plunger!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Richard, 21 Apr 2010 @ 7:36pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 8:42pm

      Re: Whats going on with this blog?

      If it is actually a focused effort to ruin a community, it really says a lot about industry shills...and how out of touch they are.

      People on the internet have been routing around user inputted garbage for over a decade. A little more won't change very much.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 9:13pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        techflaws.org (profile), 22 Apr 2010 @ 1:40am

        ignore the bs

        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.

        And who gives a damn about what TAM thinks?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        abc gum, 22 Apr 2010 @ 5:45am

        Re: Re: Whats going on with this blog?

        "reverse shills "

        That's too funny!
        I knew you were full of it, but that is amazing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2010 @ 8:21am

      Re: Whats going on with this blog?

      I agree!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 22 Apr 2010 @ 8:09am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.