As anyone who has been following the debate regarding the "future of journalism" knows, there have been a lot of ink (and bytes) spilled arguing over the role news aggregators are playing in the "decline" of traditional journalistic models. Rupert Murdoch has labeled the practice of news aggregation by entities like Google News "theft," and a professor from the Wharton Business School recently called on lawmakers to amend the copyright laws to prevent aggregators from posting any portion of news stories for a full 24 hours after their initial publication. Even the FTC has gotten in on the act, listing "Additional Intellectual Property Rights to Support Claims against News Aggregators" as the first policy proposal in the Staff Discussion Draft recently released in connection with its workshop series on "How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?" (To which Google had a thoughtful reply.)
But for all of the heated rhetoric blaming news aggregators for the decline of journalism, the fall of civilization and male pattern baldness, many are still left asking the question: are news aggregators violating current law?
Today, CMLP releases a white paper entitled "The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices" that attempts to answer that question by examining the hot news misappropriation and copyright infringement claims that are often asserted against aggregators, and to provide news aggregators with some "best practices" for making use of third-party content.
A hearty thanks goes out to the people that helped make this paper possible: Justin Silverman, for invaluable research assistance; David Ardia and Sam Bayard, for reading and critiquing numerous drafts; and the speakers from the "Saving Journalism from Itself? Hot News, Copyright Fair Use and News Aggregation" panel at our spring conference, for helping to frame and crystalize many of the issues.
You can download the white paper here.