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Google and Twitter both cool on hot news, tells court

June 23, 2010

So it would appear that I am not the only one that is concerned regarding the doctrine of hot news and the desire of the old business model type media (read newspapers) to call on this seldom used doctrine to artificially claim exclusivity for an arbitrary period of time on news.

Both Google and Twitter have decided to file an amicus brief in the legal case between financial website theflyonthewall.com and Barclays Plc, claiming that Internet chatter cannot be contained and that restricting the spread of news content could hurt the public.

Both Google and Twitter point out that the concept of “Hot News” in this the internet age is “obsolete”  and as I stated in my earlier posts on this subject that is nay on impossible to stop the free flow of information most notably across blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc.

I particularly like the use of the analogy / actual event

“How, for example, would a court pick a time period during which facts about the recent Times Square bombing attempt would be non-reportable by others?” asked Twitter and Google in their filing. “News reporting always has been a complex ecosystem, where what is ‘news’ is often driven by certain influential news organizations, with others republishing or broadcasting those facts—all to the benefit of the public.”

I did post a tongue and cheek post that might just answer that question

Breaking News, due to Copyright restrictions we are unable to divulge or report on today’s news, please bookmark this site and return tomorrow when we will legally be able to report on today’s news in the mean time feel free to peruse the many fine article of old news we have available courtesy of NEWSDOTCOM.

Now obviously booth Google and Twitter have pretty high stakes at risk if this doctrine was to reappear and I suspect the greater fear is that it would be expanded to include a lot more than is currently being argued in the courts.

And finally The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also spoken on the issues in on The Fly’s case, arguing that the hot news ruling stifled the site’s First Amendment rights. Of course at this stage this is only relevant to US in regards to the current action in the courts, but if the lobbing and secrecy behind ACTA have taught us anything is the US don’t seem to have any problems in jamming badly written and conceived trade treaties down the world throat.

The EFF have also submitted an amicus brief to the court.

“This Court should recognize that the hot news doctrine implicates core First Amendment principles: an injunction issued under the hot news doctrine plainly contemplates restricting publication of newsworthy facts, Applying heightened First Amendment scrutiny in hot news cases, particularly in the online context, will help ensure that the doctrine serves that purpose. It should not be used to stifle common journalistic practices and new forms of commentary, curation, and information sharing online.”

Further reading regarding this development can be found at the following publications.

Google and Twitter pour cold water on “hot news” : ars technical

Google, Twitter go to bat for Theflyonthewall : reuters

Google And Twitter Tell Appeals Court That ‘Hot News’ Doctrine Is Obsolete :techdirt

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