Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UPDATE: Hartford Courant Settles 'Hot News' Copyright Suit with Journal-Inquirer

Hartford CourantImage via WikipediaSettlement terms were not disclosed, but the Tribune Co.-owned Hartford Courant earlier this month quietly ended its defense of a copyright infringement/"hot news" suit brought against it by the Manchester Journal-Inquirer (see "TUOL" post 12/4/09), PaidContent.org reported.

The Journal Inquirer sued for $1.65 million, claiming that the Courant plagiarized its stories about education and local water issues, posting some on the Courant Web site without attribution. The Courant apologized to its readers in September 2009 (see "TUOL" post 9/4/09) for its ersatz news aggregating practices.

With the parties' out-of-court resolution, journalism junkies are deprived of seeing the Journal Inquirer's "stealing news" accusation played out in open court. The Courant had contended that its news aggregating came under the fair use exception to the plaintiff's copyright infringement count, and denied the re-written stories at issue constituted "hot news." The so-called hot news doctrine, which amounts to a property right in information, dates back to an Associated Press case decided by the Supreme Court in 1913, but enjoyed a revival of sorts last year with a New York case involving a financial services Website.

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