Judge Issues $5 Million Award To Dow Jones In Hot News Case... But It's Meaningless

from the hot-news? dept

In January, we wrote about Dow Jones suing Ransquawk, a UK-based service that sends out news alerts to clients. Dow Jones used the antiquated and obsolete concept of "hot news" misappropriation, since there was no actual copyright claim to be made. For years, we've discussed the problematic nature of the hot news doctrine, which some news companies just can't let go of using. In May, we noted that Ransquawk basically ignored the legal process (though it had publicly commented on the lawsuit), leading to a default judgment against Ransquawk. That's what happens when you don't show up in court. This week, the judge officially awarded Dow Jones $5 million in the case, which is again fairly meaningless. In theory, Dow Jones can go after Ransquawk for the money, but it doesn't appear that it has any US-based assets to attack.

While some who don't follow the details and don't understand the nature of a default judgment may make a bigger deal of this, the ruling is kind of meaningless since there was no actual adversarial process here. But, really, the bigger issue is that hot news is just a concept that needs to go away. In an age of social media sharing, retweeting, forwarding, reposting, etc., the idea that someone can claim some sort of exclusive ownership over "breaking" news is just silly and pointless. If your entire value is wrapped up in being a few minutes ahead of the competition, and you can't stand someone repeating the news that you were still first in getting out, you've got other, much more serious problems with your business model.

Filed Under: default judgment, hot news, misappropriation, news, squawk services
Companies: dow jones, ransquawk


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:27pm

    To destroy a bad law, simply apply it equally

    If the legal system wasn't a 'pay to win' one, the idea of 'Hot news' would likely be destroyed right quick.

    Just a few cases of individual bloggers or smaller news groups stopping the major news agencies from reporting on something big and you can bet they'd suddenly be crying out about 'unfair' it was that individuals could stop others from reporting on the news, and calling for 'Hot news' laws to be tossed(or simply re-written in their favor).

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

  • identicon
    twinsdad9901, 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:31pm

    Hot News Doctrine

    Is that really a law? Can a verdict against it overturn it?
    It does seem antiquated, at best.

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

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 8 Oct 2014 @ 9:40pm

    Breaking stories are often wrong

    News organizations compete with each other to make the big scoop and this causes them to jump to conclusions before the details are fully confirmed. Once the first news channel or paper takes the risk everyone else jumps in and reports the same sketchy story. This has led to many sources wrongly reporting the death of a celebrity or spreading spoof news stories and making asses of themselves.

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

  • identicon
    Whoever, 8 Oct 2014 @ 10:41pm

    Domain name is vulnerable

    Since Ransquawk uses a ".com" address, I would expect Dow Jones to go after the domain name as property with value that can be used to partially satisfy the judgement.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 9 Oct 2014 @ 2:36am

      Re: Domain name is vulnerable

      Well pointed. Since the US no longer respects anything if there's enough financial pressure applied I wouldn't be surprised if they go for it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2014 @ 6:44am

      Re: Domain name is vulnerable

      ...which is why everybody outside the USA should use only domains under their own country's ccTLD. If you must have a .com, make it a 301 Permanent Redirect to the equivalent under your country's ccTLD (301 makes Google points its search results to the redirect target).

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

      • identicon
        Whoever, 9 Oct 2014 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re: Domain name is vulnerable

        ...which is why everybody outside the USA should use only domains under their own country's ccTLD.


        Even if they used a ".co.uk" domain, this is run by Nominet, which is a US company. I wonder what would happen.

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 9 Oct 2014 @ 8:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Domain name is vulnerable

          My guess is that it makes the .uk tld as vulnerable as a .com. Remember, ".com" is not US-specific in the first place, it is international. The only thing that makes it special is that it is managed by a US company.

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

  • identicon
    Another Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2014 @ 4:56am

    Re: Domain name is vulnerable

    Hey, here's an idea: They can get the City Of London Police to do their dirty work!

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


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