‘We can copy anyone’ – Fin24

Newspaper

Fin24 has filed its answering papers some three months after Moneyweb launched a an application against it for copyright infringement and unfair competition.

Moneyweb brought the application in September, saying Fin24 breached its copyright by unlawfully lifting content from seven Moneyweb articles published between July 2012 and July 2013.

In Fin24’s answering affidavit, Jannie Momberg, editor-in-chief of 24.com, strongly denies that Fin24 has breached Moneyweb’s copyright or that it competes unlawfully with Moneyweb.

Momberg argues there is no copyright and exclusivity in the news, so there can be no copyright infringement and that Fin24 gave proper attribution to Moneyweb in the articles.

He adds that by linking to Moneyweb, Fin24 directed more traffic to Moneyweb’s site than Moneyweb would have attracted through paid-for advertising.

Momberg also argues Moneyweb follows the same practices as Fin24, citing five articles published by Moneyweb where content was sourced from international publications.

In this regard, Momberg contends that the manner of copying of others’ work by Fin24 (and allegedly by Moneyweb) amounts to fair dealing and is an exception to copyright protection.

The debate focuses on how and to what extent publications can use the material first published by others and the manner in which they do so.

Moneyweb argues Fin24 is unable to recognise the distinction between copyright infringement and unfair competition and what is accepted ethical and legal practice when reporting on newsworthy events derived from non-syndicated third party sources.

Moneyweb was highly selective of the third party articles from which it sourced the information.

This choice is based on the relevance, news value and the international prominence of the publication in which the articles appeared.

It sought to use the content in a fair and permissible manner, with proper attribution.

In my view, this contrasts strongly with Fin24’s approach. Fin24 appears to see news articles in third-party publications in the same way it sees press releases, which it can potentially use to augment a low-cost editorial strategy.

In the affidavit, Momberg also strongly denies that Fin24’s practices represent “plagiarism on an industrial scale”, as Moneyweb claims. He says Fin24 sourced content from Moneyweb on only 11 occasions and 194 occasions from 39 local and international websites during the period.

This translates to one article every two days.

Momberg says these 194 articles represent 2.05% of all articles published by Fin24 during the

period.

Momberg says: “I submit that the method of journalism rather sanctimoniously espoused by

the applicant (Moneyweb) – of sending out reporters to the

scene of each event, trying to conduct interviews and generally trying to obtain all information first-hand, has become largely outdated and antiquated in the 21st century practice of digital media publishing.

He says the speed of technology means its “no longer practical” to wait for find reporters and to send them to the scene of news events.

Nowadays, news houses latch onto news from the first reporter on the scene and then publish “provided the courteous attribution of source is done by means of a hyperlink to it”.

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