Can I Keep Sharing News Excerpts Legally?

It is unclear if the Internet will ever ban the sharing of excerpts from news articles and stories. It might, even with “transformative” commentary added. As this site is non-profit and educational and links back to original sources, it may continue for some time. Still, I could see things swinging in the more prohibitive direction, so I try to keep an eye on legislation like the EU’s Article 17. As long as I’m not making money, I’m not a target, but there was a case where the AP sued a company called Meltwater over reselling its content.

A federal judge ordered an Internet news clipping service to stop reselling stories from The Associated Press, saying the ability of news organizations to perform an “essential function of democracy” was jeopardized when a company is allowed to “free ride” on the costly work of others.

Media observers say the ruling against Meltwater U.S. Holdings Inc. and its Meltwater News Service, if upheld on appeal, could provide strong protection for the news industry as it struggles to survive in an Internet age.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote rejected Meltwater’s claims that its use of Web stories drawn from a scan of 162,000 news websites from more than 190 countries was a fair use of copyright-protected material.

“Through its use of AP content and refusal to pay a licensing fee, Meltwater has obtained an unfair commercial advantage in the marketplace and directly harmed the creator of expressive content protected by the Copyright Act,” Cote said.

… The judge noted that commercial Internet news clipping services like Meltwater perform an important function for their customers, but that “does not outweigh the strong public interest in the enforcement of the copyright laws or justify allowing Meltwater to free ride on the costly news gathering and coverage work performed by other organizations. Moreover, permitting Meltwater to avoid paying licensing fees gives it an unwarranted advantage over its competitors who do pay licensing fees.”

Meltwater is a 12-year-old electronic news clipping service that helps its clients monitor how they are covered in the press. In its lawsuit, the AP alleged that Meltwater News had been pilfering current and past material from the AP and other news providers without paying licensing fees.

George Freeman, a media law expert in private practice at Jenner & Bloch, called the ruling “one of the most solid and comprehensive that we’ve had in this very important field.”

Richard Stim, a San Francisco attorney and author of “Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off,” said the ruling is special because most lawsuits against news aggregators get settled out of court.

Read more HuffPost

The result of this was a merger mutually beneficial to both Meltwater and the AP according to Wikipedia which has background and other information on this case.


Although Meltwater had vowed to appeal, both the Associated Press and Meltwater dismissed all claims and counterclaims in July 2013. After the litigation, the Associated Press and Meltwater partnered to develop new products that’s aim would be to benefit both companies…

It takes time and energy to sift through many hundreds of uninteresting and factually dubious stories every day to find the best true strange stuff. I think this site provides a useful free service in that regard and I’ll keep it up if possible.

Tell a friend about it if you enjoy this site. I don’t have time to promote it and I have no advertising budget, so I just let people find it organically.

I’ve been posting at least one new thing per day for a few months now and currently traffic seems to be at around 200 viewers per day at this site, plus more on the twitter and other places that broadcast my posts. My guess is that most of these viewers in WordPress stats are bots, web search engine crawlers, and so on, but the few real people who press the Like button in WordPress and leave comments do make it fun and worth doing.

Thank you for stopping by.


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