Filed under: news
Last week, a US Federal Court ruled in favor of the Associated Press in their lawsuit against media monitoring company Meltwater. We have written previously about BurrellesLuce filing an amicus brief and reactions around the web.
At stake is the definition of “Fair Use” as it relates to content published online. It has ramifications for the business models and legal strategies of publishers, as well as media monitoring companies and their clients.
Jeff John Roberts at BusinessWeek summarizes how the court arrived at its judgment (links in the original):
To decide if something is fair use, courts apply a four-part test that turns in large part on whether the defendant is using the copyrighted work for something new or unrelated to its original purpose. Famous examples of fair use include a parody rap song of “Pretty Woman” and Google’s display of thumb-size pictures in its image search. In the AP case, however, Meltwater’s fair use defense failed.
Judge Cote rejected the fair use claim in large part because she didn’t buy Meltwater’s claim that it’s a “search engine” that makes transformative use of the AP’s content. Instead, Cote concluded that Meltwater is more like a business rival to the AP: “Instead of driving subscribers to third-party websites, Meltwater News acts as a substitute for news sites operated or licensed by AP.”
Cote’s rejection of Meltwater’s search engine argument was based in part on the “click-through” rate of its stories. Whereas Google News users clicked through to 56 percent of excerpted stories, the equivalent rate for Meltwater was 0.08 percent*, according to figures cited in the judgment. Cote’s point was that Meltwater’s service doesn’t provide people with a means to discover the AP’s stories (like a search engine)—but instead is a way to replace them.
The judgment also points to the amount of content that Meltwater replicated. Whereas fair use allows anyone to reproduce a headline and snippets, Cote suggested Meltwater took “the heart” of the copyrighted work by also reproducing the “lede” and other sentences:
“A lede is a sentence that takes significant journalistic skill to craft. [It shows] the creativity and therefore protected expression involved with writing a lede and the skill required to tweak a reader’s interest.”
How the ruling affects publishers
Publishers and media monitoring companies haven’t always worked together and this is going to change. Newspapers are needing additional revenue streams and the clients of media monitoring outfits have been a neglected source of money.
Publishers are going to have to work together to exploit this income source. To an end user tracking mentions of their company or attempting to do competitive analysis, it is quite a lot of effort to piece together a total national or international catalog of licensed sources. Media monitoring companies are the natural connection between publishers and end users.
This court decision gives content publishers a strong position in this partnership. Companies that try to get around their wishes have this legal precedent working against them.
You’re a Media Monitoring Company (MMC), now what?
As I alluded to above, the key to survival is acquiring licenses to monitor and distribute content from publishers. This will protect you from legal actions like the Associated Press took against Meltwater.
Groups like NewsRight and companies such as BurrellesLuce in cooperation with Moreover Technologies have developed one solution, Metabase Premium. Before the dust settles, others will likely emerge, as well.
Whatever you do, complying with the publishers’ wishes is key. Some are satisfied with the value of MMC’s driving traffic to their sites. Others, like in the Meltwater case, see it as an infringement. Protect yourself and your clients.
You’re a client of a Media Monitoring Company, are you protected?
While this lawsuit has defined some parameters of Fair Use, what’s less clear is what happens if you are distributing content without permission from the publisher. Ask the company that you’re using if they have licenses for the content that they are distributing to you. Make sure that you are protected from lawsuits yourself.
What does the future hold?
I’ll leave you with the words of Corynne McSherry, director of intellectual property at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposes the ruling:
“What we’re going to see now is a lot of litigation over what is a legitimate search engine or not,” said McSherry, whose organization filed an amicus brief backing Meltwater. “I think this opinion muddies the water.”
*UPDATE: These click-through stats refer only to the 33 articles being disputed and not to the rates of the services as a whole.
March 29, 2013
Last time, we talked about major newspapers backing the Associated Press against media monitoring company Meltwater. Today, let’s look at some of the responses from around the web:
ArsTechnica has a balanced summary of the dispute:
Last week, the nation’s largest newspapers lined up to tell the New York federal judge considering the case that they support the AP. An amicus brief [PDF] was filed by The New York Times, The McClatchy Company, Advance Publications, and the Newspaper Association of America, which represents 200 newspapers around the country. In the brief, they argue that Meltwater isn’t a search engine—it’s a competitor.
The Brief discusses the suit’s implications:
The outcome of the lawsuit will depend on how convincing Meltwater’s search engine argument is. They use the same pieces of information—a headline, link, and short snippet—and are generally agreed to be covered by fair use provisions, but the legal precedents against them are racking up. And if the AP manages to get a favorable ruling over Meltwater, other search engines could find themselves being asked for licensing fees too.
Meltwater responds to the filing of the amicus brief:
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.
BurrellesLuce weighs in with their perspective:
[W]e curate content on behalf of our clients and charge a royalty. Those royalties go back to the publishers. PR professionals are understanding, more and more, why these measures are necessary. They recognize the difference between a genuine media monitoring service and an aggregator. They realize they may be exposing their organization, as well as their clients, to substantial copyright liability by using the latter.
Of course, this ruling will affect more than PR professionals. Anyone that analyzes the news and other media to understand their competitive landscape has an interest in this court case.
How do you think this will play out?
March 15, 2013
In 2011, The Grey Lady made waves by introducing its paywall. It received its share of praise and criticisms about its long term viability, ability to pay the bills, and potential alienation of its readership. Recently, several major US papers have followed the Times’ example by erecting paywalls of their own. Papers are plugging the gaps in their systems and the leaky paywall itself may become a thing of the past.
The Washington Post is the latest of the big papers to consider going behind a paywall. Rather than following the “charge first and ask questions later” strategy of some other sites, it is actively gathering information from its users beforehand. In preparation for its imminent block, visitors are being polled on:
- How often they read the site.
- What other sites they read,.How much would they pay?
As the Washington BizJournal reports:
There were three options… seven-day delivery and unlimited Web access for $24.95 a month, unlimited Web access without a print subscription for $14.95 a month, and Sunday delivery plus unlimited Web access for $7.95 a month.
The Boston Globe previously allowed visitors from Social Media sites to read 5 articles per month before requiring a subscription. That number has now dropped to 2 articles per month.
This change only affects the BostonGlobe.com site. They still maintain their free Boston.com site, which contains less content.
Globe spokeswoman Ellen Clegg says, “We have been trying to find the right balance between the free-sharing culture of the Internet and paid access to premium Globe content.”
New York Times
The Paper of Record has knocked off one way of getting around its paywall. Visitors can no longer trim the URL to avoid triggering the pay warning. This was the easiest and most common method of avoidance, though several more still remain.
Spokesperson Eileen Murphy says that keeping these venues of free access open is a feature, not a bug:
When we launched our digital subscription plan we knew there were loopholes to access our content beyond the allotted number of articles each month. We have made some adjustments and will continue to make adjustments to optimize the gateway by implementing technical security solutions to prohibit abuse and protect the value of our content.
What Does It Mean?
Paywalls seem to be where the online news industry is heading, at least for now. These three papers have different methods of going about it:
- WashPo: Getting feedback on various payment plans before proceeding.
- Boston Globe: Offering a free option and a superior paid option with few leaks.
- NYT: Making the paywall leaky to get users acclimated before clamping down.
Opinions run strong on which method is best, or if paywalls are a viable long-term solution for monetizing online news. I think that DigitalFirst’s John Paton’s words of caution are appropriate for those of us on the outside. We should be humble in drawing our conclusions:
[E]motional arguments over what something is worth in a market economy is a near worthless waste of time at the expense of finding real solutions to the problem.
What other paywall strategies have you seen?
February 22, 2013
Metabase Premium is a turnkey solution for providing full access to premium, licensed content. Designed for the needs of media monitoring and evaluation (MME) companies, Metabase Premium is a copyright-compliant media monitoring service that makes it easy, seamless, and cost-effective for MMEs to provide their clients with full access to licensed content, including paywall-protected content from publishers such as The Associated Press, Hearst, and The Dallas Morning News.
Read more about it here.
September 25, 2012
This week we have been exploring how the top Olympic sponsors having been benefiting from their advertising budget. As a change of pace, today we’ll be looking at how Moreover Technologies is powering coverage of the Olympics through the BBC website.
The British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) has some of the best Olympic coverage in the world and Moreover Technologies, Newsdesk and Search Engine Toolkit, help provide value to the BBC visitors.
There are 3 levels of Olympic coverage offered through the BBC website:
Every country has their own news page, listing key facts, records, medal counts, and more. The “Around the Web” news is powered by Moreover and is a part of every country’s page.
Great Britain’s page:
Just like countries, each sport being showcased in the Olympics has its own dedicated page. Moreover’s tools allow the “Around the Web” section to be populated with relevant news with minimal manual intervention.
A portion of the swimming page:
Top individual Olympians also have their own pages supported by Moreover’s news. Hundreds of pages at www.BBC.co.uk showcase how information can be automatically displayed using a robust taxonomy to create value for visitors.
“Around the Web” section for Tony Martin:
What has been your go-to source for Olympics coverage?
August 1, 2012
On Wednesday 4th July, Moreover will be making a change to the way in which News article extracts are presented in the Newsdesk and Search Engine Toolkit products.
Currently the extract appears in non-paragraphed format within the source code of any RSS, TSV, Atom, or HTML feed that is using News content. Starting on the 4th of July, paragraph breaks will be included (where present) in the text of the extract.
Please note that all other media types which make up our Social Media coverage (Blogs, Comments, Social Networks, Forums, etc.) already output in this format.
We do not expect there to be any issues for our clients as a result of this change, but if you have any questions about this upcoming update, please contact your Client Services Representative.
June 29, 2012
We are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with NewsRight the digital rights and content licensing organization based out of New York.
This first-of-its-kind agreement introduces a new model for aggregated use of news content published on the web, ensuring reliable, rights-cleared news content for customers, while licensing the intellectual property rights of hundreds of publishers. In addition, the NewsRight partnership opens the door to new, previously unavailable media metrics directly from publishers.
We are genuinely excited about the NewsRight deal – it represents a significant step forward in aligning the interests of publishers and the users of the content, as the publishing industry continues to evolve.
We’ll be sharing more details in the weeks ahead.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to your account manager who will be happy to assist you or if you are not a client contact email@example.com for more details.
You can read the press release here: NewsRight & Moreover Technologies Announce Content and Data Analytics Licensing Agreement
Let us know what YOU think about this groundbreaking agreement!
March 14, 2012
Thank you to PSMG (Professional Services Marketing Group) for the article mention in their January publication of the Professional Services Management Guide.
Our own Fareita Udoh discussed how many companies operate in a complex media and information landscape and are dependent on a large number of information outlets for media content such as content aggregators, press monitoring agencies and free media tools. Read how Moreover Technologies offered Bond Pearce LLP the ability to easily create and configure customized RSS news feeds from editorially controlled sources … Click here to download
January 18, 2012
Our thoughts go out to those injured in the recent bombing in Norway.
Explosion rocks central Oslo, Norway PM’s office
The cause of the blast was unknown but the tangled wreckage of a car was outside one building and the damage appeared consistent to witnesses with that from car bombs. Police and fire officials declined comment on the cause.
We can see from the new hour-by-hour Time Trend Analysis in Newsdesk that word is quickly spreading:
July 22, 2011
Posted by Chad
There has been a lot of buzz about the reaction in Social Media to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. The story broke late Sunday and people plugged into the Social Media pipeline learned about it a full hour before President Obama made the announcement on television.
In comparison, let’s look at how online News sites reacted:
On Saturday, April 30th, the biggest story involving Osama bin Laden was a story about a bombing in Morocco, possibly connected to al-Qaida. There were few than 100 mentions of his name.
On Sunday, May 1st, that number jumped to nearly 3000, up 3135% from the day before.
By Monday, news mentions exploded to nearly 40,000. That’s roughly a 1400% increase from Sunday.
From Saturday to Monday, there was a 44,475% increase in news coverage about Osama bin Laden.
Monday, May 2nd, was the day with the most mentions of Osama bin Laden. Nearly 15% of all news worldwide mentioned his name.
Here we can see how US vs. Middle Eastern coverage of Osama bin Laden has been for the last 30 days. This chart includes searches for Osama’s name in Arabic (أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن), so it is likely that there is some noise in the red bars below.
We can see that news and social media both react strongly to trends. At its peak, a single story can dominate the world’s headlines. It also shows that coverage tends to fall off quickly, even in the affected area, like the US in the chart above.
Also, when we look at products that are mentioned most in connection to Osama bin Laden, there is one clear – and extraordinarily pervasive – winner.
May 10, 2011