December 14, 2011 0

Yahoo might have been frustrated with the copyright infringement claim, allegedly made by the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It can be said as the former Internet giant’s Southeast Asian office not only denied the claim, but even made a counterclaim against the media company.

As per the defense papers filed in the High Court yesterday, Yahoo alleged that they are actually a victim of the claim as SPH had reproduced, without authorization, Yahoo! content on SPH’s citizen journalism website STOMP.

There were three instances listed by Yahoo!, wherein two written stories and one photograph. All the three instances were where SPH had allegedly infringed its copyrights, as Yahoo claimed. It even clearly mentioned that one story and the photograph were posted on STOMP on October 28, which depicted Singaporeans forming a long long long queue for the Apple iPhone 4S.

Yahoo’s lawyers from ATMD Bird & Bird noted in the court papers that SPH had communicated Yahoo! articles to the public through operating the STOMP website. They added, “The plaintiff (SPH)’s infringing acts were committed by the plaintiff willfully or without regard to the defendant’s copyright.”

Briefing about the history of the case, it was SPH who ignited anger in the Yahoo! Premises last month, with copyright infringement claim, alleging that the search engine had reproduced news content from SPH’s pool of newspapers without its permission. But Yahoo was quick to counter attack SPH for a false claim and instead said that the latter was at fault.

In no time this case was in conversations all over Singapore and is even been seen as a landmark case in Singapore, with a traditional media owner suing a new media company.

SPH claim noted that Yahoo! Singapore website had unlawfully reproduced 23 articles, for which Yahoo cried that it was “in the public interest that such news be disseminated and made available as freely and as widely as possible, in a timely manner”. Definitely, Yahoo attempts even to free itself from the claims saying that its website is accessible for free. Moreover, its lawyers said: “This is consistent with the fundamental principle that copyright law does not protect facts and information”.

Again, Yahoo is of the thought that SPH does not gain copyright over works on any online platform, quoting that the Yahoo! website is “not a newspaper or similar periodical within the meaning of the Copyright Act”.

Interestingly, Yahoo had failed attempting to get license for the content from an English daily broadsheet, The Straits Times. That is owned by SPH, but failed negotiations accounted for noting at the end and the talks were closed in August last year. However, SPH had shown concern to work on with Yahoo!, as it briefed new articles, which were available for free on The Straits Times online, as detailed by Yahoo!’s lawyers.

The lawyers even fired saying that the 23 news-related articles, as claimed by SPH during November last year and October this year were “insubstantial or insignificant” compared to the tens of thousands of articles published by SPH newspapers during the same period.

On a concluding note, the search engine concerned with the case is seeking an injunction and damages against SPH on infringement proceedings and copyright infringement.