The Associated Press (AP) filed suit against news aggregation agency Meltwater in early 2012, asserting that the firm's business model was based on the illicit redistribution of protected AP content. This week, a federal district judge ruled in the AP's favor with a verdict that could set important precedents for how digital media is collected and shared.
"This ruling makes it crystal clear that Meltwater wrongly used news content from AP to create its own content, while paying none of the costs associated with creating original news content," AP president Gary Pruitt told reporters. "This is an important ruling for AP and others in the news business who work so hard to provide high-quality news reports on which the public relies."
Meltwater executives are already plotting an appeal, according to Politico, based on their own interpretation of fair use doctrines. While the court opinion suggested that the company had misappropriate online content, Meltwater officials insist that perspective runs counter to several prior decisions which facilitated the development of some of today's leading ecommerce models.
The most significant parallels can be drawn to Google News. According to Forbes, the search giant's aggregation service has raised similar concerns from media outlets, but they have been tempered by the massive amounts of organic web traffic driven to news agency websites as a result. Whereas more than half of Google News excerpts prompted users to click through to the original publication, less than one percent of Meltwater clippings elicited the same response.