Media24 denied on Wednesday (11 December) that it plagiarised seven stories by Caxton’s online business news service Moneyweb.
“There is no copyright or exclusivity in news items. No copyright exists on facts, figures, names, places, or even quotes in news stories,” Media24 said in a statement.
“These elements are not original to the reporter, and copyright and exclusivity do not arise when one reports them, even in the first report.”
Moneyweb is suing Fin24, the online business news service of Media24, for alleged copyright infringement, plagiarism, and unlawful use of Moneyweb’s content.
On December 5, Fin24′s legal team filed their answer to the Moneyweb charges.
“In the seven articles that Moneyweb complained about, Fin24 sourced news elements from Moneyweb and clearly indicated them as the source,” it said.
“This practice, of publishing news with accreditation, is an integral part of how news is disseminated and is done in all media, including TV, radio, print, and online. Even by Moneyweb.”
Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk said he received the legal papers over the weekend.
“I am meeting with the legal team tomorrow morning and we will only comment after that.”
Media24 said discovery and reporting did not move public domain news elements into a “monopolised private domain”.
Media24 CEO Esmare Weideman said that to suggest otherwise would be contrary to the public interest in news dissemination.
“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,” she said.
“Clearly this cannot be, and a contrary position would be a global first and destroy much of news reporting and many of today’s journalists’ jobs.”
Media24 said the SA Copyright Act made specific exception for copyright infringement for news reporting purposes.
“Indeed, the public policy behind news dissemination is so well recognised that South African law exempts from copyright infringement the copying from articles for news reporting purposes,” it said.
“No one has a monopoly on the news. And for good reason.”
It said the stories had included hyperlinks to the relevant Moneyweb articles.
News24 Editor-in-Chief Jannie Momberg said Moneyweb’s own figures showed the success of this attribution.
“Our attribution provided far more effective click-throughs to Moneyweb than Moneyweb could have bought,” Momberg said.