Case weakens hot news doctrine

Circuit court ruling is a big victory for companies that aggregate information online.

It was not just a copyright infringement suit. It was a test case.

The plaintiffs were three of the nation’s largest financial institutions: Barclays Capital, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. They jointly sued a small, financial news website——that had 28 employees.

Setting Precedent

The banks initially got the precedent they wanted. A federal district court ruled in 2010 that Thef lyonthewall had committed not only copyright infringement (by posting copies of the banks’ reports) but also hot news misappropriation (by posting summaries of the banks’ recommendations). The court then enjoined Theflyonthewall from reporting the banks’ recommendations until after the market had been open for a significant period of time.

Sidebar: Play It Safe

After the 2nd Circuit’s ruling in Barclays Capital, there may not be much left of the hot news doctrine. But online news services should play it safe and avoid indicia of free-riding.


Steven Seidenberg

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