May 13, 2016 — The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has struck down allegations by business publication Moneyweb that its rival Fin24 is guilty of copyright infringement. Moneyweb’s contention, which was filed in September 2013, was that Fin24 had infringed copyright law by aggregating up to eight of its articles unlawfully.
“the dispute between the parties came to a head following [the] reproduction and misuse of Moneyweb’s Defencex articles”…Moneyweb’s Affidavit
The case draws attention to Section 12 (8) of South Africa’s Copyright Act of 1978, which excludes certain official texts from copyright protection such as laws, speeches of a political nature, or “in the news of the day that are mere items of press information”.
Acting Judge Daniel Berger who handed down the landmark judgement stated that Fin24 did not reproduce a substantial part of Moneyweb’s story titled “Defencex boss rallies support” and that Moneyweb has to pay 70% of Fin24’s legal costs.
“In determining whether a substantial part of the work has been reproduced, the court must make a value judgment based on the work as a whole, focusing more on the quality of what has been taken than on the quality”.
While ruling on the first Defencex story, the Judge stated that Fin24 took very little quantity from this story. Regarding Fin24’s second Defencex story, “Defencex boss opens up to Moneyweb”, the Judge ruled that “qualitatively, (Fin24’s) reproduction was not substantial”. According to the Judge, Moneyweb’s contention that “Fin24 has copied verbatim the heart and conclusion of the Moneyweb article”, appears to be an exaggeration and that Moneyweb’s claim of unlawful competition cannot succeed where its claim of copyright infringement has failed.
The judgment comes a year after the matter was heard in the South Gauteng High Court in May 2015.