Who’s stealing whose stories? Daily Mail Australia fires back after News Corp accuses it of copyright infringement.
Daily Mail Australia is “seeking urgent assurances” that News Corp’s tabloids will stop lifting its exclusives without attributing or linking back to the source, the publisher said today.
The lengthy statement sent to journalists comes after News Corp served the Daily Mail with a cease-and-desist letter telling it to stop rewriting its stories. Several examples were offered, including a Mail exclusive interview with the kidnapping victim of murdered teenager Jamie Gao, where, when rehashed in the Daily Telegraph, the exclusive interview is credited only to a “British newspaper”.
In another instance, the Daily Mail’s exclusive images of cricketer Stuart Broad are republished on the Courier Mail’s website, which gets around the exclusivity by taking a screenshot, complete with the Mail’s “side-bar of shame” (or as it’s officially called, the “right rail”) visible to the right.
A spokesman for the Mail said News Corp’s allegations that Daily Mail Australia journalists were committing copyright infringement were “preposterous”.
“This is a cynical attempt to damage the reputation of MailOnline and its hard-working journalists. At the Daily Mail Australia we aim to break news stories each day and have already begun to do so. However, like all news media — in particular the giant American digital news-aggregation sites — we also follow up on the stories of the day that have been covered elsewhere.”
Where news stories first broken by other publications are retold, the release states, the Mail links back, and provides clear attribution.
“Sadly, this courtesy does not hold true at News Corp.”
The release ends with praise for Rupert Murdoch, calling him a “brilliant, buccaneering innovator who built a global media empire by challenging old business models and vested interests. How sad that the King Canutes now running his Australian print operation are so unfamiliar with how the modern digital world works.”
A News Corp Australia spokesman told Crikey his company stands by its earlier statements. “We believe the Daily Mail Australia is breaching our copyright by lifting substantial slabs of original content from a large number of articles from our mastheads.” Crikey understands News has yet to receive any formal communication regarding the Mail’s copyright concerns.
Meanwhile, News Corp has found allies in its fight. Crikey understands Seven sent a legal letter to Daily Mail Australia highlighting three stories based on Sunday Night exclusives. A Mail spokesman acknowledged the letter, and said the operation would be issuing a response through its lawyers soon.
“This letter come as a surprise as the Daily Mail Australia works closely with Channel Seven’s Publicity Department who pitch us stories and provide us with video of their shows; stories and video that when published on the Daily Mail Australia website are attributed to Channel Seven,” the spokesman told Crikey. “In fact, on the same day as the legal letter was sent, the Daily Mail Australia received a press release from Channel Seven’s Publicity Department notifying us of the stories coming up on Sunday Night.”
Crikey asked Seven spokesman Simon Francis what he thought of this argument. His response: “I think the two issues aren’t related”.