When an iPad App Infringes Copyright


Courtesy of Apple

When a popular iPad app aggregates news articles and re-packages them for reading on the iPad, is it copyright infringement?

The Washington Post and a dozen other media companies would say yes.  Zite, the Canadian app developer, argues the content is aggregated in much the same way that Google and other search engines crawl and index web content. Is there a difference between the two?  This is reminiscent of the early days of internet copyright disputes (in 1997), when the Washington Post and other media companies sued Total News Inc. for aggregating and framing news articles on the Total News webpage. The Washington Post had the same complaint as they now have with the Zite app: namely, that ads are removed or obstructed in the process, and the media company’s ad revenue is threatened. 

Other US lawsuits have established that certain types of framing, such as the reproduction of thumbnail images, can be excused as “fair use”. Google successfully raised this defence in the US decision in Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc. [PDF] based on the “transformative” nature of the copying. 

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

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