The Associated Press and Meltwater, once bitter legal rivals, have decided to squash their beef, and move forward working together on new products that will benefit both parties. Both (who were suing each other) have elected to cease all litigation between them.
Meltwater provides services to business, scanning news from around the world to help its customers track keywords and topics of interest, providing results in a search engine-like format. The Associated Press sued the company (with support from major newspaper publishers like The New York Times, Gannett and McClatchy) over copyright issues, and Meltwater sued the AP back on grounds of libel.
In March, a judge even sided with the AP, in a ruling that could have had major implications for fair use when it comes to search engines.
“The court’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent, and if it stands, it will make it much harder to discover information online.” said Meltwater CEO Jorn Lyseggenat the time. “It sends a chilling message not only to search engines and social networks, but also to users of those services who routinely share excerpts with others. A society is not well served by copyrights laws that are at odds with the daily habits of millions of people.”
Internet industry organizations like the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed briefs in support of Meltwater. Meltwater said at the time that it would examine all future options, including an appeal of the decision.
“We want to partner and help publishers build successful online businesses,” said Lyseggen. “Together we can make the pie bigger for everyone, but that happens through innovation, not litigation.”
And it turns out that this is the path that has prevailed with today's news. In fact, the two parties put out a joint announcement under the title "AP and Meltwater to collaborate on innovating new products".
“Combining AP’s unparalleled breadth and depth of premium text and video content with Meltwater’s deep technical expertise in analytics and proven capacity for innovation enables us to work collaboratively to develop new products and new revenue opportunities for both parties,” said Lyseggen in the announcement. “There is more to be gained by working together to develop new markets and reaching new customers than can be achieved through adversarial paths and we are eager to forge a strong relationship with AP. Content providers and technology innovators need to come together. Only through a commitment to cooperation and innovation can we increase the pie for all parties.”
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt added, “We are pleased with this outcome. The litigation is behind us, and we are looking forward to partnering with Meltwater in a positive and constructive relationship going forward. With Meltwater’s expertise and innovative approach to develop new products for new markets and the depth and speed of AP’s global content, we can provide customers both new and existing products focused on their needs.”
Not much else was provided in the way of details.
Back in April, the UK Supreme Court sided with Meltwater and the PRCA, which represents UK PR consultancies, in a similar case regarding information consumption and copyright infringement. You can take a look at that ruling here if you like.