Meltwater Response To Associated Press Lawsuit: AP Is Misusing Copyright Law

from the indeed,-they-are dept

We were somewhat surprised by the Associated Press' decision to sue news search engine Meltwater, because we couldn't see how the AP -- even with its absurdist interpretation of copyright law -- had any case. Meltwater works with companies to help them track news about themselves. While it's similar to a clipping service, it doesn't actually "clip" the news. Instead, just like Google News or other news search engines, it provides a headline, a snippet and a link to the full story. In other words, if the AP's argument gains traction, the AP may have effectively outlawed search engines. That's ridiculous. Among the AP's silly claims in the lawsuit (and there are many), is one that says because users can cut and paste AP stories from their original websites and "save" them in a Meltwater archive, Meltwater is guilty of violating copyright law. Under that argument, so is any email program or word processing program.

Either way, Meltwater has hit back with a response (embedded below) that pushes back on all of these points, explains pretty clearly how it doesn't actually infringe... and also claims that the AP's arguments amount to "copyright misuse":
Plaintiff’s claims are barred in whole or in part by the doctrine of copyright misuse. Through this Complaint and through other means, Plaintiff seeks to misuse its limited copyright monopoly to extend its control over the Internet search market more generally, thereby improperly expanding the protections afforded by U.S. copyright law. Among other things, AP has misused its copyright monopoly by demanding that third parties take licenses for search results, which do not require a license under U.S. copyright law, and AP has also formed a consortium (called NewsRight) with the purpose of further misusing its copyright monopoly to extract licensing fees that exceed what the law allows.
Meltwater also brings up multiple other defenses, including a bunch of defenses highlighting how the AP failed to bring its lawsuit in a timely manner. They also point out that since the AP posts these articles freely on the web, there's an implied license that you can link to it and point people to the content.

There is, of course, also the AP's attempt to bring back the bogus "hot news" doctrine, which some companies like the AP have been trying to revive after it was considered a completely dead concept. So far, the courts aren't buying these hot news claims, and hopefully they get rejected here as well. Meltwater attacks the hot news claims head on with two interesting arguments. First, it claims that Section 230 protects it from any hot news claim. That's an interesting argument, though I'm not sure it really applies here. Separately, however, they argue (correctly, in my view) that hot news doesn't exist any more, effectively, because it's really a form of a copyright claim, and all state copyright claims (hot news is a state law issue) are preempted by federal copyright law. It would be nice to have a court officially kill off hot news as a concept, so here's a chance for that to happen.

Honestly, I still can't figure out what the AP thinks its doing here, other than trying to shake money out of a search engine because its execs remain too clueless on how to run the organization in this modern era.
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Filed Under: aggregation, hot news, search engine
Companies: associated press, meltwater

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2012 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's ridiculous to assert that "IP bullshitters" want to do away with privacy. Give me a break. That's the exact sort of baseless nonsense that unfortunately runs rampant on Techdirt. Mike laments the lack of nuance, but everything he does sets the tone--and that sort of faith-based, idiotic, nonsensical extremism is precisely what Mike reaps and sows.

    Sorry, Mike, but Techdirt sucks because you make it suck. The lack of nuance is your own fault. Take my issue here with the hot news doctrine. You simply misunderstand the doctrine, and the fact that you think it doesn't exist is just wishful, faith-based thinking. I can very easily, and definitively, explain to you how you have hot news wrong. But you're not interested in getting it right. Years from now, you'll be saying how hot news doesn't really exist since you think it's preempted by copyright. Even though that's not quite true, it's what you want to be the truth, so you'll just keep saying it. You do this sort of thing with pretty much every issue of law or set of facts I've ever seen you touch.

    Where's the nuance, Mike? Where's the leadership? Techdirt is a shithole because you can't be bothered to actually do any research or understand anything. You just jump to conclusions, ignore those who would explain your errors, and repeat. Give me a break with your whining about lack of nuance. You don't bring nuance to anything. You're the king of broadbrusing and ignoring everything you just don't want to see. It's absolutely ridiculous. I've never seen a more closed-minded person in my life.

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