Still no precedent against aggregators

The settlement of a long-running case brought by Singapore Press Holdings against Yahoo! has left publishers still with no precedent against news aggregators if data is uploaded without permission.

The settlement in the copyright infringement case was reached in the Singapore High Court this week with Yahoo! agreeing to pay damages and costs to SPH.

It is the latest in a long list of international cases brought by publishers against news aggregator sites, including several in the US, which all have ended in settlement, meaning that no ruling has been made on any case.

The only exception has been an action in Australia, in which the Federal Court ruled that the use of headings with re-written story summaries linked by aggregators to the original story did not constitute a copyright breach.

The Singapore case was instigated by SPH against Yahoo! Asia Pacific n in November 2011. SPH cited 23 articles from its newspapers which Yahoo! was alleged to have reproduced substantially over a 12-month period.

Yahoo denied the allegations and also counter-sued, citing two articles and a picture from its website that were allegedly posted on SPH’s citizen journalism website, Stomp.

Yahoo! later applied to withdraw one of its counterclaims, and the court granted an order for it to amend the claim.

SPH filed an amended claim in August last year, citing a total of 254 articles stretching over 17 months, which it said Yahoo! had reproduced without permission.

Under the terms of the settlement, Yahoo! Asia Pacific acknowledged that it has, in connection with its Yahoo! Singapore News site, reproduced content from SPH’s newspapers without the media firm’s approval.

The settlement amount will remain confidential.

“As publishers, Yahoo! companies strive to respect the intellectual property rights of others wherever they do business,” a joint media statement from both companies said.

“The actions here by a small number of Yahoo! Asia Pacific employees are deeply regretted and the responsible employees have been disciplined or terminated.”

Yahoo! has also undertaken not to, among other things, “knowingly or intentionally infringe SPH’s copyrights,” the statement added.

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