Dow Jones Wins Default In Questionable 'Hot News' Case
from the please-make-hot-news-just-go-away dept
While Dow Jones had initially threatened the company with copyright infringement, someone realized that there's no copyright in headlines or factual news, which is basically all Ransquawk was sharing. Ransquawk had responded to initial threats from Dow Jones by pointing out that it got its information from a variety of sources, but apparently decided not to respond at all to the lawsuit. Because it didn't respond at all, the court found Ransquawk in default and has now granted an injunction against Ransquawk, saying it can't get someone with lawful access to Dow Jones to share their account, it can't pass on any Dow Jones content prior to that content being published on the web or in print, and it can't market its products to suggest that it will help people get access to Dow Jones content (even if it's true...).
Ransquawk responded to the ruling by noting somewhat accurately:
Ranvir Singh, the chief executive and a co-founder of the London-based Ransquawk, said in an emailed statement Friday that Dow Jones's case against Ransquawk is unconstitutional because it precludes free speech.That explains why he didn't respond to the lawsuit... but it also explains the result. Most US courts will simply give the party filing the lawsuit exactly what it wants if the other side doesn't show up. That's what a default judgment is. In this case, though, it's extra problematic because it may inspire others to think that hot news is a legitimate doctrine, even though the issue wasn't fully adjudicated here, but was rather decided on default.
"Hot news misappropriation is an antiquated law, recognized in only 5 U.S. states and completely unrecognized in the U.K. and [European Union]. If we are guilty of it, then so are a multitude of other news aggregators," he said. The decision "truly flies in the face of modern practicality where news is transmitted across the globe in seconds, irrespective of who initially published it."
He added that fighting the claim would bankrupt Ransquawk as a company, and in the U.S. the company wouldn't even be able to claim its costs back.
It would be nice if we could just make it clear that the hot news doctrine violates the First Amendment and stop having to see these kinds of cases altogether.