AP CEO: Win vs. Meltwater 'a victory for public and democracy'

March 21, 2013
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NEW YORK -- In clear and sweeping victory for the Associated Press and for the public, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, in Manhattan, ruled Wednesday that Meltwater News infringed the use of AP content. The court granted AP’s motion for summary judgment in the suit, denying Meltwater’s.

“For years all of us have been hearing that if it is free on the Internet, it is free for the taking. That's what Meltwater argued. The judge in this case just rejected that argument,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. “We won on every single argument we made in the case. We are thrilled. This is first and foremost a victory for the public and for democracy.”

In her ruling, the judge, Denise Cote, states that the content Meltwater "relies" on in its service was not produced by them, but taken from the reporting and research that AP "labored to create." She stated: “Investigating and writing about newsworthy events occurring around the globe is an expensive undertaking and enforcement of the copyright laws permits AP to earn the revenue that underwrites that work. Permitting Meltwater to take the fruit of AP’s labor for its own profit, without compensating AP, injures AP’s ability to perform this essential function of democracy.”

Cote also weighed in on the "fair use" concept and said this about Meltwater appropriating the "lede" from AP stories: "The structure of a news article is itself the product of strategic and stylistic choices. A lede is a sentence that takes significant journalistic skill to craft. There is no other single sentence from an AP story that is as consistently important from article to article."

AP had filed suit against Meltwater in February 2012, claiming copyright infringement. Meltwater uses unlicensed AP content verbatim to produce a service for paying customers that competes directly with AP, the suit said. Last month, six publishers and news organizations -- including The New York Times Co, Gannett Company and the Newspaper Association of America -- filed an amicus brief in support of AP.

A subscriber-only service, Meltwater distributes “Meltwater News,” an electronic clipping service that guarantees “no copyright fees.” Paying customers get substantial verbatim excerpts of AP stories, and those of other media. Meltwater also offers its customers the ability to store the excerpts in an archive housed on their server.

About AP
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Erin Madigan White
Media Relations Manager
The Associated Press
212-621-7005
emadigan@ap.org

Paul Colford
Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press
212-621-1895
pcolford@ap.org

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