Fin24 vs Moneyweb: Landmark ruling on fair dealing in news reporting


The South Gauteng High Court on 5 May 2016 issued its ruling in respect of the application brought by Moneyweb against Fin24 (part of News24) for copyright infringement and unlawful competition. Moneyweb sued Fin24 in 2013 based on seven articles, published over a year ago, that included news elements derived, with attribution, from Moneyweb.

BREAKING STORY: Court finds Fin24 not guilty of copyright infringement, bar one article

“The ruling vindicates our conviction that our conduct was fair and lawful,” says Media24 chief executive Esmaré Weideman. “The fact that the court ordered Moneyweb to pay 70% of Media24’s cost speaks for itself.”

Discovery and reporting do not move public domain news elements into a monopolised private domain and to suggest otherwise, as Moneyweb did, would be contrary to the public interest in news dissemination, she added.

“It would lead to the illogical result where the first reporter can monopolise a news story and prevent another reporter from re-reporting the story’s core elements. Clearly this cannot be, and a contrary position would have been a global-first and would have destroyed much of news reporting and many of today’s journalists’ jobs.”

This is a landmark judgment for online publishing which is a fast-moving dynamic environment that is causing major disruption in publishing across the board. Since the application was brought the business model for online publishing has rapidly evolved to such an extent that Media24’s online publishing businesses have undergone dramatic change.

Weideman said the company took note of the court’s ruling that Fin24 had infringed copyright in one article. “We accept the court’s decision and pride ourselves on ethical journalistic practice. Overall this ruling is a huge victory for Fin24. It proves that aggregation and original reporting both have a place in modern journalism.”

“Significant investment was made to bolster News24’s original content and journalism,” says Adriaan Basson, newly appointed editor of News24 which includes the syndication service News24Wire, Fin24 and Sport24.

“The appointment of a 16-strong national team of journalists and multimedia content producers, in addition to the more than 60 strong editorial team we already had in our Cape Town and Johannesburg offices, strengthens our ability to deliver original content, breaking news  and analysis to our readers fast, and wherever they are.

"Now, more than ever, innovation is key to succeed in digital publishing. We keep a constant eye on international best practice and fair dealing which includes aggregation, an integral component of online publishing the world over, and have ensured that it is harmonised with the law.”

Weideman says that Media24 is an innovative, forward-looking company, focused on remaining at  the forefront of cutting-edge publishing models. “We constantly evaluate our operations to strengthen the advantage we have built in the online news space over the past 18 years. We are happy that this ruling has brought closure to this dispute.”

Full judgment:

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