News have spread today about Singapore Press Holdings suing Yahoo South East Asia for "has "substantially" reproduced articles from its newspapers without proper licensing or authorization".

A few friends on Facebook found examples of articles on Yahoo that may be the 23 articles that is in contention and most of them are found to be without byline.

Take this article for example.

Wrote Yahoo News,

Speaking to The New Paper (TNP), Tan’s 54-year-old daughter, a civil servant who wanted to be known as Miss Koh, said that she hired the maid to take care of her mother.
However, on Friday, Koh received a call from her tenant saying that the maid had disappeared and Tan was alone at home. When she got back, she found S$40,000 worth of jewellery and about S$20,000 in local and foreign currency missing.

The Yahoo News team cited the interview to The New Paper and therefore assumes that the copyright has not been infringed.

However, if this entire article is based on The New Paper article, Singapore Press Holding might have a strong case against Yahoo. I believe Singapore Press Holding would be arguing that the only way Yahoo would be able to publish this news was that it made full reference from their own articles.

As such, as most of the Singapore Press Holdings printed article in the digital format are found behind a paywall, Yahoo would thus be an alternative source to read the similar news, thus Yahoo is doing it without the necessary licensing or authorisation.

Over at the Intellectual Property of Singapore website, there is a paragraph highlighting fair use in copyright.

From IPOS website,

Where the copying is for the specific purposes of research or study, it shall be taken to be a fair dealing as long as the copying limits are observed. For a published work of at least 10 pages, the copying limits are up to 10% of the number of pages or one chapter, whichever is the greater.
In other cases, fair dealings for the purposes of criticism, review or reporting current events would not constitute copyright infringement. In the case of criticism or review and the reporting of current events in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, a sufficient acknowledgment of the work is required.

Yahoo's argument would possibly be that the articles used are for the reporting of current events and sufficient acknowledgement was given to their source of the article.

In addition, all Yahoo news have comment boxes and would this considered opening up current events to criticism?

In 2009, Redsports, a blog dedicated to the write-up of local sports, found that LianHe ZaoBao, part of Singapore Press Holdings, infringed on the site's copyright by publishing a photo in the Chinese daily without the permission of the site. There has been no updates of this case yet.

Wrote Redsports,
What part of “© REDSPORTS.SG” did they not understand? (© is the universally accepted symbol that stands for copyright)
The photo was taken by Marvin Lowe, a Red Sports volunteer, who confirmed that Omy did not at any time seek his permission to use the photo. Neither did they ask us. We would have rejected them outright because of the intended use of the photo.
Given the circumstances of the story, we think the infringement is especially vile. A young girl died tragically.
Was OMY so eager to give a face to the story that they would stoop so low as to rip off someone else’s picture?
At the bottom of the www.omy.sg website, there is a line that says: SPH Copyright ©
The double standard.

5 comments

  1. Cynical Investor  

    November 24, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Well, I've always wondered how long Yahoo! would get away with this.

    Few weeks ago, when I didn't know abt this suit, I was telling my friends of something that Yahoo! took from Today, almost literally.

    So brazen.

    Wonder if SPH will ask for Yahoo!'s journalist MS Word docs. Can trace changes.

  2. Aaron Koh  

    November 24, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    SPH has been quite active in identifying websites/blogs that cut and paste their articles. Lawyer letters have been send to them too.

    It is about respecting copyright and to be honest, not many, even those in the communication industry may not respect copyright by cutting and pasting articles from the papers.

    Even MPs scanning newspaper cut outs is also considered as copyright infringement.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Yes, it is wrong to cut and paste literally from the media owners.

    But as highlighted, Yahoo did attribute the articles to the source. Is this attribution considered enough?

    Did you also noticed Yahoo didn't link to their source? If Yahoo did, I would say they could use this as putting their best effort to attribute to the original source/

    If I was the editor for Yahoo, I would have highlighted the news but get the reporters to get their own quotes.

    I have highlighted the Redsports incident because as much as SPH is asking for respect of their IP, they should also respect other people's IP too.

  3. Anonymous  

    November 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Just want to point out these broken sentences:
    "The Yahoo News team cited that the interview here to The New Paper"

    "Singapore Press Holding might strong case against Yahoo"

  4. Anonymous  

    November 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Anyone ever bothered to guess what's the real agenda of the SPH. IMO, it is preparing to control the freedom of speech come 2016/2017.

    You can believe that a wide ranging scheme has been planned and is gradually being implemented covering every possible gap, the govt wants to seal.

    We shoudl be clear about this any work to frustrate the schemers.

  5. Aaron Koh  

    November 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    I don't think this is an attempt to silence the Internet.

    It just a case of a business protecting its copyright.

    Even if Yahoo loses, they can afford to pay the fine.



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