Copyright Matters: Dow Jones Sues News Aggregator Ransquawk for Misappropriation

January 10th, 2014
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Dow Jones Files Copyright Lawsuit Agains Ransquawk Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuceLast night, The Wall Street Journal reported that their parent company, Dow Jones & Co. sued Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd., a financial news aggregator service known as Ransquawk, for illegal distribution of the Dow Jones content without publisher consent.

Dow Jones claimed in its complaint that the London-based Ransquawk accessed the DJX newsfeed, which Dow Jones’ real-time financial news subscription service, and republished the content “verbatim, within seconds” of its publication. Ransquawk’s website says that it provides live news headlines in a 24-hour scrolling news feed, as well as real-time audio with breaking news and instant analysis, drawn from over 100 news sources.

In a statement on the Dow Jones Press Room, Jason Conti, SVP, general counsel and chief compliance officer, wrote that Dow Jones “refuse[s] to sit back when others swoop in to swipe our content.” He also claimed that Ransquawk is “systematically copying, pasting, and selling our journalists’ work.” There’s not much of a reply from Ransquawk; chief executive and co-founder Ranvir Singh said only that, “We obviously strongly deny any accusations made against us by Dow Jones … we will only be in a position to make a statement tomorrow.”

As we discussed on Monday, copyright compliance is a primary concern in media monitoring and news aggregation. This case looks to be very similar to that when the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against Meltwater for copyright infringement, a case which the AP won.

Why Ransquawk didn’t take notice then, we’ll never know, but they certainly shouldn’t be surprised at the lawsuit given that in recent years Dow Jones filed – and received large settlement claims from – other “hot news” misappropriation lawsuits against Briefing.com and Cision.

Once again, BurrellesLuce is not an aggregator but a curator, and we negotiate licensing fees with our providers to ensure our content is copyright compliant. We strongly believe that news outlets must be fairly compensated for their content, which EVP Johna Burke blogged about just three days ago. PR pros rely on content generated by high-caliber content produced by the AP, Dow Jones, and other providers not just for those valuable media mentions, but also for measurement purposes. In their need to be on top of the news, PR pros should protect the content they need and value by using services that respect and compensate the very publications that produce that content.

So many of us are committed to “community” nowadays, but where would the PR community be without journalism? Media and PR may be separate yet tandem communities, but they are part of the same ecosystem, and without balance on both sides, that ecosystem will crumble.

4 Responses to “Copyright Matters: Dow Jones Sues News Aggregator Ransquawk for Misappropriation”

  1. Todd Murphy says:

    A very succinct statement on the importance of quality journalism and protecting those media outlets that produce the content. A white-hat approach to news monitoring and media measurement is truly the only model to pursue. Thank you for sharing with others.

  2. Ellis Friedman says:

    Hi Todd, thanks for your comment. That’s exactly it; producers of quality content have the right to that content, and we need to get out of the mindset that content is free.

  3. Chris Barnard says:

    This all smells a bit fishy to me.

    The fact of the matter is that very few people actually own IP on their content in a post Web 2.0 world, with rumours and news in financial matters being available within seconds of being published worldwide.

    Companies such as DJ can’t call foul just because other aggregation websites have got with the times and arguably produce a greater range of news…then expect to sue these smaller companies. We’d all be doing it. Shall I sue the next person who retweets my content?

    Ridiculous.

    Chris.

  4. Ellis Friedman says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s certainly true that news is available in seconds now, but I think the central issue is that the aggregators do not “produce” news, they send out news produced by publications. And those publications are entitled to being compensated fairly for their work.

    You bring up a really interesting point about tweeting, though. We can assume that (the generic) you don’t have a business model based on generating money through tweeted content, and presumably people retweeting your content aren’t charging others to see the content you created. If they were, you just might have a case (and I say this as someone who is in no way a legal expert).

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