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.

Filed Under: hot news
Companies: afp, ap, belo, gannett, mcclatchy, naa, ny times, scripps, theflyonthewall, time, washington post


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Jun 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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