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Dow Jones sues rival Ransquawk for copying its news

Dow Jones is suing rival service Ransquawk for allegedly accessing its news feed and copying it within seconds of publication.

The case, if it goes to court, may test the “hot news” doctrine, which was established in the 1918 case International News Service v. Associated Press. The doctrine allows publishers a limited time monopoly over time-sensitive news they have reported, on the basis that they have put resources into gathering the material.

Under US copyright law, facts are not copyrightable, but the specific expression of a story is.

In a press release yesterday, Jason Conti, deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer for Dow Jones, said Ransquawk has gained access to his company’s DJX news feed and is “squawking” its content, verbatim, within seconds of it being published.

“We devote a lot of time, energy and money to having the best newsroom in the world,” said Conti.. “We produce scoops, uncover wrongdoing and aim to keep our readers informed on a broad range of topics through the hard work of nearly 2,000 Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones journalists around the world.”

Conti said Dow Jones has previously obtained undisclosed settlements from Briefing.com and Cision after filing lawsuits against the two companies alleging copyright infringement and violation of the “hot news” doctrine.

Dow Jones’ lawyers, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, sent London-based Ransquawk a cease and desist letter in November 2013 claiming Ransquawk had violated the US Copyright Act of 1976.

Later that month, Ransquawk responded that it had not entered into a subscriber agreement for the DJX service. The company said it obtained the material from various sources, including Twitter, spread betters and FX brokers and various other new services that carry Dow Jones news.

It said that under UK law, there is no “hot news” doctrine and news reporting is not copyright-protected as it falls under the fair dealing exemption (similar to fair use in the US).

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