Australian Court Says Headlines Aren't Copyrightable

from the good-news dept

US courts figured this out a while ago, but it's nice to see that an Australian court has now ruled that newspaper headlines don't deserve copyright protection. The specific lawsuit was over the use of Australian Financial Review headlines in LexisNexis, which also summarized the articles in question. It appears the judge also said that the use of the headlines constitutes "fair dealing," but I'm a bit confused about the combination here. If the headlines aren't copyrightable... then fair dealing shouldn't even come into play. Not surprisingly, the publisher of AFR, Fairfax Media, is not at all happy about the ruling, making the totally laughable argument that copyrights on headlines is necessary:
Gill described the judgment as "disappointing", adding: "It is not consistent with what is necessary to protect intellectual property in the digital media environment... We are considering our appeal opportunities."
Seriously. If you're relying on copyright protection of your news headlines as a part of your business model, you've got the wrong business model.


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    Richard (profile), Sep 9th, 2010 @ 3:12am

    It appears the judge also said that the use of the headlines constitutes "fair dealing," but I'm a bit confused about the combination here. If the headlines aren't copyrightable... then fair dealing shouldn't even come into play.

    I think the judge came at it from two directions.

    1. Considering the headline as a standalone work - it is too short to be copyrightable.

    2. Considering the headline as part of the article itself. Clearly the article as a whole is copyrightable. However the headline will always be a small enough extract to be allowed under fair dealing.

     

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    Randomguy, Sep 9th, 2010 @ 3:27am

    Another silly move by Fairfax

    Silly move, Fairfax.

    Ah well, at least you're not trying to implement a News Corp style paywall - oh wait: http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/fairfax-gives-a-taste-of-what-is-to-come-for-prem ium-content-charges-20100905-14w6l.html

    Not all Australian media seems content to die a slow, self-inflicted death though, the ABC is continually expanding its online presence. While the traditional rag-based media is in a race to make itself obselete, the ABC is streaming an array of shows for free (in fact, download quota free with certain ISPs), including a 24 hour news channel. All the more power to them.

    This century is well and truely digital, adapt or die. I've got a feeling the current crop of 'set up a paywall and sue everyone' business models will, in coming years, be included in the textbooks as examples of what not to do.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Sep 9th, 2010 @ 7:16am

      Re: Another silly move by Fairfax

      "This century is well and truely digital, adapt or die. I've got a feeling the current crop of 'set up a paywall and sue everyone' business models will, in coming years, be included in the textbooks as examples of what not to do."

      I have a friend writing a book on the fall of the media distribution companies. He is approaching it from two directions psyche and business. He explains how the two are overlapping to cause the failure of the record labels, collection agencies, newspapers, tv studios, movie studios, cable companies, phone companies, and book publishers.

      The current media distribution business model comes down to attempting monopoly control, intimidation, and inducing fear. Basically they use a stick and refuse to use a carrot. Its an interesting read.

      He came to the conclusions that the cost of content for the consumer is going to zero, the cost of phone service is going to zero, and the cost of access to the the internet is going to be greatly reduced. My point is that unless companies adapt to this reality now they will fail.

       

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    abc gum, Sep 9th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    Headline at checkout stand

    The incredible frog boy is on the loose again

     

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    Danny, Sep 9th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    I would be of the mind to think that headlines are in the same realm as facts. You shouldn't be able to copyright the headline "England wins the World Cup" anymore than the fact that England beat Italy 2-1 in the game.

     

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    Michael Kohne, Sep 9th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Fair dealing

    I don't know the full extent, but AU fair dealing laws get into all sorts of things, including exclusive contracts between various parties. There's lots of stuff they don't allow that goes way beyond our anti-trust laws.

     

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