Meltwater News sued by AP for copyrightPosted: February 15, 2012
By Maria Torres
The Associated Press has sued Meltwater News, a news aggregator that charges subscribers for its services, for copyright infringement.
Meltwater makes its business by allowing users to monitor the news. Users search for keywords and Meltwater provides excerpts of news stories from various sources (most distinctly, the AP) that match the search. The excerpts are so substantial that the users hardly need to click through the links in order to grasp the gist of the news, according to the filed lawsuit. As a result, Meltwater has “stolen” clients from the AP.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the AP offered its news stories to news organizations for free — but it just so happens that it doesn’t. The AP licenses organizations who pay for the AP’s services so that they may use the AP’s original journalism in their own newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. With credit to the AP, of course.
But Meltwater found a way around paying for AP services long ago by lifting excerpts from those paying organizations, oftentimes without citing the AP at all. While the AP has to worry about paying its reporters and creating content and running an organization that exists solely to provide news, Meltwater has to worry about posting excerpts and paying for servers. The rest of the money they make from their subscriber fees doesn’t even go toward their own efforts to report the news — they don’t dabble in original content.
So not only is Meltwater stealing the AP’s business, it’s not even crediting the AP with the excerpts it displays.
Copyright may be what the AP is suing Meltwater for, but is there something else here as well?