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Meltwater expresses “surprise” at AP copyright complaint

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By John Glenday, Reporter

February 15, 2012 | 2 min read

Meltwater News has reacted with “surprise” to a recent copyright complaint filed by the Associated Press in New York, relating to its use of “unlicensed verbatim AP content”.

This subscription service allows paid members access to excerpts and full text articles, allowing them to be filtered by keyword and further distributed on customers own newsletters, angering many.

Amongst them is Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press, who said: “Meltwater News is a parasitic distribution service that competes directly with traditional news sources without paying license fees to cover the costs of creating those stories. It has a significant negative impact on the ability of AP to continue providing the high-quality news reports on which the public relies.”

Responding to the allegations Meltwater said in a statement: “Meltwater respects copyright and operates a complementary service that directs users to publisher websites, just like any search engine.

We do not understand why the AP has chosen to single us out or launch these proceedings without notice, though we note the coincidence that the AP's press release came out at exactly the same time as the UK Copyright Tribunal issued a major decision in favour of Meltwater in the UK.

“We are confident that our service is compliant with US copyright law, with the US courts having repeatedly held that Internet search is legal. We will review the AP's claim once we receive it and respond accordingly through the formal processes, but we hope to be able to resolve this through dialogue with the AP.”

In a blog post former News Corp exec Dominic Young dismissed this defence however, observing that so far no tribunal has yet agreed that Meltwater don’t need a license to reproduce such content and that the 94,000 click through’s they provided to UK newspaper websites in 2009 were “insignificant”.

Young wrote: “When you consider that the top 5 UK newspaper websites currently reach about 170 million unique users per month it doesn’t seem particularly significant either. Even if you assume each of these only generates a single page impression each (in other words, dramatically underestimate their actual traffic), 94,000 click-throughs is, according to my dodgy maths, somewhere under a hundredth of one percent of their current annual traffic.”

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