News monitoring service TVEyes can continue to stream Fox News clips to its subscribers, but may no longer allow people to download those clips to their own computers, in order to watch them offline, a federal judge has ruled.
The prohibition is included in an injunction against TVEyes issued on Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan. The order also requires TVEyes to take steps to block people from sharing clips on social media services, and to prohibit subscribers from emailing clips to more than five recipients at other organizations.
The ruling comes two months after Hellerstein issued a mixed decision about whether TVEyes' clipping service infringes copyright. He said that some components of the service -- including a feature that allows users to archive clips for later viewing -- are protected by fair use principles. But he also ruled that the service isn't protected by fair use when it offers downloads of news clips.
The dispute between TVEyes and Fox dates to 20213 when Fox News brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against TVEyes, a $500-a-month television monitoring service that enables subscribers to search for television programs by keywords, view snippets and download and share clips.
Hellerstein previously decided that TVEyes makes fair use of Fox News Network's material by indexing news clips and providing snippets of them to subscribers. He said in that earlier ruling that the indexing and clipping service was “transformative,” and therefore a fair use, because it serves a different function from the original broadcasts.
“The White House uses TVEyes to evaluate news stories and give feedback to the press corps,” Hellerstein wrote at the time. “The United States Army uses TVEyes to track media coverage of military operations in remote locations, to ensure national security and the safety of American troops.”
But Hellerstein ruled in August that the downloading feature "goes well beyond TVEyes' transformative services of searching and indexing."
He also said at the time that TVEyes' subscribers should be able to send clips to other people, but warned of a "substantial potential for abuse."
"Congressional staffers share video clips among themselves; Congressmen share with members of Committees and caucuses; lawyers share with clients, etc. To prohibit e-mailing of videos would prevent relevant information from reaching the critical party," he wrote.
But he added: "In its current incarnation, TVEyes' e-mailing feature cannot discriminate between sharing with a boss and sharing with a friend, nor between sharing for inclusion in a study and sharing a clip for inclusion in a client sales pitch. Fair use cannot be found unless TVEyes develops necessary protections."
The fight between Fox and TVEyes drew the attention of other TV news broadcasters, including CNN, CBS and NBCUniversal, who weighed in with Fox.
But others, including Victor Navasky, former editor and publisher of The Nation, sided with TVEyes.
The order issued on Friday will take effect in December.
It specifies that TVEyes must block clips from playing on domain names associated with blocked sites, including the URL shorteners. "Examples of such social media sites include: twitter.com; t.co (Twitter's URL shortener); facebook.com; fb.me (Facebook's URL shortener); linkedin.com; pinterest.com; plus.google.com; tumblr.com; vine.co; snapchat.com; hubs.ly (Hubspot, a social media posting system); bit.ly (Bitly, a social media posting system); buff.ly (Buffer, a social media posting system); and reddit.com," the injunction states.