Meltwater, AP Settle Differences, Form Partnership

The Associated Press and online aggregator Meltwater have agreed to put aside their copyright dispute and partner on new initiatives, the companies said this week.

The new venture involves developing new products that draw on the AP's news content and Meltwater's online media analytics, the companies said in a joint statement. The AP declined to elaborate on the upcoming partnership.

The move brings an end to the AP's high-profile 2012 lawsuit accusing Meltwater of misappropriating the wire service's stories by sending snippets of them to paying subscribers. U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote in New York signed an order officially dismissing the case on Tuesday.

The lawsuit drew the interest of digital rights groups, as well as online tech companies, which argued that Meltwater is protected by fair use principles when displaying fragments of news articles. Some groups warned that any decision in favor of the AP could be used against services like Google News, which also aggregates stories and displays brief excerpts.

But a coalition of news organizations, including The New York Times Co., aligned against Meltwater. They argued in court papers that Meltwater's "parasitical behavior" threatens news companies.

Meltwater argued in its court papers that its use of the AP's articles is a fair use because it's “transformative.” The company said that its search results were designed to “inform its users where news articles that may be of interest to them were published and to help users find those items within the Internet's vast expanse."

But the AP said that Meltwater merely offered users “row upon row of naked verbatim excerpts from articles with links."

Cote decided the case in the AP's favor in March, ruling that Meltwater was not a search engine because it was not “a publicly available tool to improve access to content across the Internet.” The judge instead characterized Meltwater as “an expensive subscription service that markets itself as a news clipping service.”

 

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