Israel Court Rejects Fair Use Claims of Newspaper in Reviewing Internet Content

Newspapers and news agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press are quick to inform readers that rewriting their content is copyright infringement, despite the fact that it isn’t.
Nevertheless, newspapers are hard hit by news aggregation services such as google news and find it difficult to make ends meet in the Internet age.

In an interesting about-turn, an Israeli photo-journalist, Tess Scheflan, has successfully sued Israel’s most popular daily newspaper and associated website for (i) copyright infringement by using a photograph she took without her permission, and (ii) infringement of her moral rights by not accrediting the source.

The picture was of a helicopter and Israeli soldier at the helipad of the Tel HaShomer Hospital and was taken during the Second Lebanon War. the journalist in question, Tess Scheflan, had published the photograph on a website where photographers post pictures for feedback and criticism. The posting was accompanied by her name and the (c) copyright symbol. Yedioth Achronot, Israel’s most popular newspaper, and the associated website YNET posted the picture after removing the copyright notice and name of the photographer. the posting was in a column about web-vibes.

Scheflan sued the paper and the website for 70,000 NIS (about $20,000). The Tel Aviv District Court rejected the fair use newspaper review defence, and in lieu of proven damages, awarded minimum statutory damages of 10,000 NIS for each offence, viewing the printed paper and the website as separate publications. Since the paper had intentionally removed her name, the court also awarded damages of 4000 NIS separately for each of the two publications, noting that the paper had apologized and posted a credit after the photographer had brought the issue to their attention.

The case was tried under the Copyright Ordinance 1911, since the new copyright law was not in effect in 2006 when the infringement took place. The court considered the publication non-commercial which I find surprising since the paper accepts advertising and uses content to draw readers to give exposure to the advertisements.

Anyway, Ms Scheflan’s blog is here: You are welcome to view her images there.

The case: T.A. 58032/07 Tess Scheflan vs. Yediot Internet and Yediot Achronot LTD. 13 November 2009

Categories: Copyright, infringement, Intellectual Property, Internet, Israel, Israel Copyright, Israel Court Ruling, Israel IP, Israel Related, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

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