Fin24 cleared of Defencex copyright infringement


Cape Town – Moneyweb’s contention that Fin24 had infringed copyright law on two stories at the heart of a copyright case was deemed invalid by a judge in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

In Moneyweb’s affidavit, it said “the dispute between the parties came to a head following Media24’s reproduction and misuse of Moneyweb’s Defencex articles”.

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

In Fin24’s first story about Ponzi scheme Defencex, Acting Judge Daniel Berger said on Thursday that Fin24 did not reproduce a substantial part of Moneyweb’s story titled “Defencex boss rallies support”.

The story was about an address by Defencex mastermind Chris Walker in 2013, which Moneyweb attended.

In its affidavit, Media24 said the information in Moneyweb’s first Defencex article was “demonstrably derived from an external source, namely Mr Walker’s public address”.

“Moneyweb has claimed no copyright in that address, and nor can it, and it has failed to demonstrate originality and that a qualitatively substantial portion … was copied by Fin24.”

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

Berger said copyright infringement should focus more on quality rather than on quantity of a story.

“In determining whether a substantial part of the work has been reproduced, the court must make a value judgment based on the work as a whole, focusing more on the quality of what has been taken than on the quality,” he said.

Examining the first Defencex story, Berger ruled that Fin24 took very little quantity from this story, while it contained very little detail of the meeting, saying the Fin24 story “is barely descriptive” of the closed Defencex meeting that a Moneyweb reporter attended.

Regarding Fin24’s second Defencex story, “Defencex boss opens up to Moneyweb”, Berger ruled that “qualitatively, (Fin24's) reproduction was not substantial”.

Moneyweb’s contention that “Fin24 has copied verbatim the heart and conclusion of the Moneyweb article”, appears to be an exaggeration, Berger stated.

Berger ruled that Moneyweb’s claim of unlawful competition cannot succeed where its claim of copyright infringement has failed.

On Thursday, Berger struck down allegations by Moneyweb that Fin24 is guilty of copyright infringement on an industrial scale. He said Moneyweb has to pay 70% of Fin24's legal costs.

READ: Moneyweb's plagiarism claims extravagant, rules judge

While Moneyweb alleged that Fin24 had infringed on seven articles, in his judgment, Berger said Fin24 only infringed on one article about Amplats.

Berger said two of the stories (Defencex) did not qualify for protection under copyright, and Moneyweb did not prove that the other four stories were original.

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