AP files lawsuit against Meltwater News

Feb. 14, 2012
Email Print Text
Subscriber-only service uses unlicensed AP content to compete against AP

NEW YORK – The Associated Press today filed suit against Meltwater News for copyright infringement and “hot news” misappropriation. Using unlicensed verbatim AP content, Meltwater delivers a service to paying customers that competes directly with AP and its customers, the suit claims.

The suit was filed Tuesday, Feb. 14, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District, in Manhattan, by the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, representing AP.

As a subscriber only service, Meltwater distributes “Meltwater News,” which styles itself as a modern-day electronic clipping service with a guarantee of “no copyright fees.” Meltwater delivers to its paying customers substantial verbatim excerpts from AP stories and other published news stories based on keywords selected by its customers. As AP’s complaint alleges, Meltwater also offers its customers the ability to store these excerpts, as well as full-text articles, in a customer archive housed on Meltwater’s server and facilitates the incorporation of AP articles into customer newsletters to be further distributed.

“Meltwater News is a parasitic distribution service that competes directly with traditional news sources without paying license fees to cover the costs of creating those stories,” said Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press. “It has a significant negative impact on the ability of AP to continue providing the high-quality news reports on which the public relies.”

Meltwater is a directly competing news service for many AP subscribers, including government agencies that use the AP wire to monitor the news. AP bears all of the extensive costs associated with creating its content, while Meltwater bears only the minimal costs of electronic distribution – thus permitting it to undercut AP with lower subscription rates through its infringing activities.

The UK Court of Appeal and a Norway court have already issued decisions holding that the content delivered by Meltwater requires a license under those countries’ governing copyright laws. But, in contrast to many other news outlets and news aggregators that deliver AP news reports to the public (including Yahoo News, Google News and AOL, which all have licenses for AP content), Meltwater does not. It refuses to license the content that it delivers to its customers.

AP’s lawsuit is not a general attack on news aggregators, stressed Laura Malone, AP acting general counsel. Nor does AP in any way seek to restrict linking or challenge the right to provide headlines and links to AP articles.

“Meltwater is not a typical news aggregator,” said Malone. Most notably, Meltwater is a closed system sold only to subscribers for a fee, and not a means of expanding public access.

Further, the complaint alleges that Meltwater provides lengthier and more systematic excerpts from AP stories than most news aggregators, particularly with regard to AP breaking news articles. Meltwater retains a vast archive of AP articles dating back to at least 2007, many of which are no longer publicly available on the Internet. Meltwater actively facilitates the storage of those and other articles in customer archives on the Meltwater system.

The publication of fast and accurate worldwide news coverage requires a substantial financial commitment. AP has bureaus in more than 100 countries and is the only news organization with reporters in every U.S. statehouse. AP journalists gain an intimate knowledge of their beats and sources, greatly enhancing the value of their reporting.

“Meltwater free-rides on AP’s significant investments in gathering and reporting news,” said Malone. “In short, Meltwater earns substantial fees for redistributing premium news content, while bearing none of the costs associated with creating that content.”

About The AP
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the Net: www.ap.org

For more information, contact:

Paul Colford
Director, AP Media Relations
212-621-1720


© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions apply. See AP.org for details.
All contents © copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved.