Meltwater vs The Associated Press
Looks like Meltwater is fighting the good fight against the Associated Press.
The Associated Press today filed suit against Meltwater News for copyright infringement and misappropriation of its breaking news content. The complaint, filed in a New York federal court, alleges that Meltwater U.S. Holding Inc. and its Meltwater News Service, a news clipping service, have been illegally selling unlicensed AP content that competes directly with AP and its customers.
I’m obviously amazingly sympathetic since I started a company that deals with content syndication issues.
However, it looks like Meltwater is fighting back:
A series of rulings in UK courts of late is showing that UK copyright law is sadly out of sync with today’s society and renders the innocent acts of millions of UK citizens illegal.
According to UK courts, tweeting a headline or emailing a colleague a link to an online news article is a breach of copyright if it is done without a copyright licence. The simple act of browsing the Internet is deemed a potential copyright infringement unless licensed. More details can be found in my commentary on recent rulings in the UK High Court and the UK Court of appeal.
The bad news is that business users still need to sign a license and pay royalties for receiving links and headlines to news that they themselves can find freely available online. This applies to clients of all news monitoring services in the UK including Google. During the court hearings, the NLA stated that they are mandated next to license UK business users of Google News and that they intend to do so.
This is a very bad precedent and I think borders on unequal protection.
Why are news aggregators and social media monitoring companies different than web browsers collecting links manually?
At what point do you cross the line? If you write a little python script to index the web in the UK do you need a license from the AP?
We have always insisted on fair use. Our customers aren’t permitted to publish full content as part of our AUP and must link back to the source (just like Google).