San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal judge today to protect fair use of news coverage and reject the Associated Press' (AP's) dangerously narrow view of what is "transformative" in a copyright court battle over a news-tracking service.

In Associated Press v. Meltwater, AP claims its copyrights are infringed when Meltwater, an electronic news clipping service, includes excerpts of AP stories in search results for its clients seeking reports of news coverage based on particular keywords. In its argument, AP asks the court to accept an extraordinarily narrow view of fair use – the doctrine that allows for the use of copyrighted material for purposes of commentary, criticism, or other transformative uses – by claiming that Meltwater's use of copyrighted excerpts cannot be "transformative" fair use unless they are also "expressive." In an amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that AP's theory would restrict the use and development of services that allow users to find, organize, and share public information.

"There are lots of examples of important fair uses that wouldn't fit under AP's cramped definition of a 'transformative' use," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Time-shifting – like what you do when you record something on your DVR to watch later – isn't 'expressive,' but courts have found it a clear fair use. Because fair use plays such an essential role in facilitating online innovation and expression, we're asking the court to follow the law and reject this flawed theory from AP."

The Stanford Fair Use Project served as counsel for EFF in filing today's brief, which was also joined by Public Knowledge.

For the full amicus brief:


Rebecca Jeschke
   Media Relations Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation