San Francisco – March 21, 2013 [updated April 15, 2013] – Meltwater today expressed disappointment with yesterday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in its ongoing copyright litigation with the Associated Press.   The trial court ruling has troubling implications for widely accepted standards of fair use online and threatens to restrict the free flow of information through search and social sharing.

In its recent decision, the court ruled that Meltwater’s presentation of search results for news articles that included the first sentence of the article was not protected by the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law.  Meltwater was surprised by the ruling, as its excerpts were consistent with other major online services, such as Google, Bing, Twitter and LinkedIn.

“The court’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent, and if it stands, it will make it much harder to discover information online.” said Meltwater CEO, Jorn Lyseggen.  “It sends a chilling message not only to search engines and social networks, but also to users of those services who routinely share excerpts with others. A society is not well served by copyrights laws that are at odds with the daily habits of millions of people.”

Due to the importance of the issues in the case, several prominent Internet industry organizations filed amicus briefs, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which counts all the major search providers among its members, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose amicus brief was filed in direct support of Meltwater.  The following links provide additional details on the CICIA amicus brief, EFF amicus brief and EFF commentary on the recent decision.

Meltwater believes the ruling misapplies the fair use doctrine and is at odds with a variety of prior decisions that have paved the way for today’s Internet. The free and reasonable use of information posted freely online is central to Internet innovation and entirely consistent with fair use.  It has enabled everything from search to social to the newest wave of big data applications. The ability to share short extracts of text with links to content ultimately benefits everyone, including publishers.

“We want to partner and help publishers build successful online businesses,” continues Lyseggen. “Together we can make the pie bigger for everyone, but that happens through innovation, not litigation.”

Of course, Meltwater will comply with any order issued by the court, but plans to examine all its future options, including an appeal of the decision.

“Our customers are our first priority,” says Lyseggen.  “Whatever the final outcome of this case, we will ensure that our clients continue to receive the high quality service that they have come to rely on from Meltwater.”

About Meltwater

Meltwater helps businesses drive growth and build brands. Meltwater’s online intelligence platform analyzes billions of digital documents daily to extract precise, timely business insights that help more than 20,000 companies understand their markets, engage their customers, and master the new social business environment. With offices in 27 countries, Meltwater is dedicated to personal, global service built on local expertise.

Share this