Wednesday 12 July 2017

Newspapers Fight Back Against Facebook and Google for Stronger IP Protection

In most intellectual property law courses and many property courses in the U.S., the INS v. AP case is taught.  In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court created the INS misappropriation claim which essentially protects the gathering of “hot” or “fresh” news from free riding competitors.  The decision was a close one and has been criticized over the years.  Occasionally, it rears its head in cases dealing with financial information and in one case seemed to cover paparazzi photos.  My impression has always been that the U.S. Supreme Court was attempting to protect the news gathering business because of the importance of having an informed citizenry in a democracy. 
Interestingly, at the confluence of fake news and President Trump’s attack on the media, the Washington Post added a slogan to its website: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”  Prior to the fake news issue and presidential attack on the media, the newspaper business had not done well—arguably because of digital media and the internet.  Newspaper businesses through the News Media Alliance are now attempting to obtain an exemption to antitrust law which will allow them to negotiate collectively against entities such as Facebook and Google.  The Los Angeles Times states:

By banding together news outlets would have more leverage against two companies that command more than 70% of the $73-billion dollar digital advertising in the U.S.  By comparison, newspaper ad revenue in 2016 amounted to $18 billion, down from $50 billion a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center. 

According to the article, "pushing for" stronger intellectual property protection is part of the goal.  It will be interesting to see whether the Trump Administration grants the exemption. 

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