Wick Communications

Hot News Misappropriation

In Online media on March 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

Ever heard of Barclays v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com? Well, you might want to read this analysis from Sam Bayard at the Citizen Media Law Project.

The story is long and involved and would require a team of media law and constitutional scholars to untangle. I wouldn’t presume to be the definitive voice, but I thought it was worth pointing others to the case and telling you why it could prove relevant for newspapers going forward.

The case revolves around a Web site – TheFlyOnTheWall.com – that, among other things, scans financial information on the Web that starts out as proprietary stuff that financial institutions like Barclays attempt to sell to subscribers. The business model for Fly has included aggregating the work of others and then offering it under its own banner. You know, just as many of our competitors do on the Web.

Well, turns out there is a long-established legal doctrine known as “hot news misappropriation.” It holds that you can’t merely pilfer the valuable, timely work of others and sell it yourself. And, as a result of the Barclays case, a respected U.S. District Court judge has added weight to our rights to our own hard work…

It’s hard to say what this will ultimately mean for news aggregators and social media Web sites and people much smarter than I seem divided on the effect. Suffice to say, the rules for publishing original info on the Web and for the aggregators who gather that information are fluid. Stay tuned.

Clay

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