Judge Restricts Sharing of Fox News Clips Through Email and Social Media

In Fox News' lawsuit against the media monitoring service TVEyes, a permanent injunction is issued that is primed to go into effect next month.
Courtesy of Fox News

Some prominent government officials and members of the press may soon find it more difficult to share Fox News clips after a federal judge on Friday issued a permanent injunction in a copyright lawsuit against TVEyes.

The media monitoring service has been used by MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Reuters, Bloomberg, the White House, 100 members of Congress, the Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, AARP, Goldman Sachs, the Association of Trial Lawyers and many others. These customers have paid a flat fee around $500 a month to watch live streams, view past television programs, download unlimited high-definition video clips and then edit them and share them with others.

Fox News filed a lawsuit, contending that the service was damaging its investment in news reporting and interfering with its own licensing of clips.

In September 2014, Fox News lost the first round of the battle when Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the indexing and excerpting of Fox News programming were protected as a fair use of copyrighted content.  This past August, in the second round, the judge came to a mixed decision that concluded that archiving also was covered by fair use, but not the indiscriminate sharing of such content.

Now comes the fallout of this decision with a rather extraordinary permanent injunction being entered. And it's one to borrow the Chris Rock film title, that could have TVEyes clients playing a game of top five. Here's a list of things that are now forbidden:

  1. Enabling users to download to their own computers video clips of content telecast on the Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network.
  2. Enabling users to view FNC or FBN content by searching by date, time and channel.
  3. Enabling users from sharing video clips of FNC or FBN content on social media websites rather than by personally directed emails, with further limitations.

Those further limitations?

If a TVEyes client wants to email a clip, he or she can only do so to five or fewer recipients. The client also has to register their work email with TVEyes instead of using Gmail or another free web email service. Those being sent the clip will also have to submit their own email address to ensure they are the intended recipients.

As for social media, the judge goes even further.

"TVEyes shall implement a blocking feature that will prevent links to FNC or FBN clips stored on any servers owned or leased by TVEyes from playing when they are accessed from links posted to the major social sharing services on the internet," states the order. "TVEyes will also block plays linked from domain names associated with the blocked sites (such as "url shorteners") to ensure that its list of blocked domains remains comprehensive. Examples of such social media sites include: twitter.com; t.co (Twitter's URL shortener); facebook.com; fb.me (Facebook's URL shortener); linkedin.com; pinterest.com; plus.google.com; tumblr.com; vine.co; snapchat.com; hubs.ly (Hubspot, a social media posting system); bit.ly (Bitly, a social media posting system); buff.ly (Buffer, a social media posting system); and reddit.com."

The order (read here) becomes effective on Dec. 14.

TVEyes attempted to argue that the injunction should only apply to 19 works that Fox News presented as being infringed, but the judge rejected this approach, writing, "The 19 works were emblematic of all Fox News' content, for Fox News complains that TVEyes copied and continues to copy all Fox News' programs, including all copyrighted content, on a 24/7 basis."

The issue of damages in this copyright lawsuit is still being litigated and the case could also potentially go up on appeal.

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