Sunday 17 June 2012

Dow Jones settles over use of its news content

Last March, Swedish PR firm Cision announced that it had received "a threat from a major US publisher of a damages claim based on alleged infringement of rights." 
The US publisher in question was Dow Jones, a News Corp company, which famously includes, among the other things, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, SmartMoney and Barron's
Apparently Cision engaged in unauthorised reproduction, distribution, and other misuse of news content published by Dow Jones, including full text articles from The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and Smart Money magazines, report RTTNews and PRNewser
Following threat of a lawsuit by Dow Jones, Cision became worried that the "likely potential liability [does this suggest that the firm was aware at the very onset that its behaviour was illicit?] that Cision could incur” as a result of Dow Jones's claim could have a significant impact on Cision's full year earnings.
On account of this, Cision announced its intention to work towards an amicable solution.
This is indeed what happened. 
A few days ago, the Swedish firm announced that it has now achieved a settlement with Dow Jones. 
Panic hits the trading floors as copyright is said
to play a major role also in finance
(Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images)
"The agreement [which was signed by both Cision and its US subsidiary] provides for a confidential settlement amount and restricts Cision from redistributing Dow Jones original content." 
This means that Cision's subscribers will now be re-directed to Dow Jones if they seek to access such content.
Although Cision's performance is increasing, the result for the second quarter of 2012 "will … be affected by the undisclosed settlement amount and other non-recurring costs for implementation plus legal / professional fees. As a consequence, the EBIT for the second quarter is now expected to be around negative SEK 10 million [this amounts to nearly $1.5 million]".
As explained by Dow Jones's general counsel, "Dow Jones aggressively pursues legal action whenever necessary to prevent the unauthorized use of [its] content ... This settlement is another reminder that only paying customers enjoy full access to Dow Jones' highly valuable journalism, and anyone who free rides on [its] content will face serious financial repercussions."
Also Sir Reginald is engaged in speculation as to
what the future may hold for news over the internet
Is this a more general warning to other subjects, such as news aggregators? Indeed, in this respect, the legal scenario is still blurred, as there seem to be no specific legal precedents, at least in the US (on this issue see a thorough IPKat post here). Contrary to this, as regards Europe, it is worth recalling the quite recent decision in Copiepresse (see the IPKat report here), in which the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld a 2007 decision that had blocked Google from publishing links to local newspapers on its online news services. Yet, further clarification, especially from other European courts and – possibly – the Court of Justice – is keenly awaited ...

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