Dow Jones Files ‘Hot News’ Lawsuit Against Briefing.com

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Dow Jones & Co. sued Briefing.com Tuesday, alleging the “theft” of its content by the subscription-based financial news site.

In addition to charging copyright infringement and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) violations, Dow Jones alleges “hot news,” and lays out an argument that won the day for Barclays in its lawsuit against FlyOnTheWall.com, which last month was barred from instantly publishing the analyst reports from three firms.

“Briefing.com has been brazenly taking a free ride on the reputation of our publications and on the investment Dow Jones makes in quality, real-time journalism,” Dow Jones General Counsel Mark H. Jackson said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

Dow Jones said in a two-week period Briefing.com “copied a substantial portion” of at least 100 Dow Jones Newswire articles and 70 of its headlines within three minutes of their release.

“Briefing.com charges a fee for a subscription to its Web site, and it is also available through Bloomberg, FactSet, Thomson Reuters and similar vendors, placing it in direct competition with Dow Jones Newswires,” the release notes.

Chicago-based Briefing.com did not immediately respond to a message left after office hours Tuesday seeking comment.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Dow Jones parent News Corp., has vowed to take aggressive action against aggregators and others he believes are “free-riding” or “stealing” the content of its many media properties.

In making the “hot news” misappropriation claim, Dow Jones says Briefing.com did not original reporting or verification of news broken by its wire, but simply “cut and pasted Dow Jones content and included the pirated material in its cheaper product.”

“Dow Jones respects and defends the rights of other news organizations to report on news events in a timely manner. Here, however, Briefing.com did not use its own resources to uncover, verify and describe news events. It waited for Dow Jones to do all the work, and then simply copied the content,” Mr. Jackson said. “In order to continue to offer the quality news and business information customers expect and count on, Dow Jones will take action to stop the misappropriation of its content.”

In the Barclays case, the judge imposed a permanent injunction on FlyOnTheWall requiring it to wait until 10 a.m. Eastern before publishing anything about analyst research that’s released before markets open. It has to hold off for at least two hours on reporting on research published after markets close.

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