A LONG dispute between newspaper publishers and an agency that monitors the news for clients has an initial victor. In early January the Bratislava Regional Court confirmed a verdict of the lower district court that the Storin monitoring agency did not violate the rights of publishers in its preparation of monitored news for its clients, the Hospodárske Noviny daily wrote.
The attorney representing the publishers, Lucia Menkeová, stated that the case could set a dangerous precedent.
“The court has pronouncedly confirmed that copying articles can be the subject of business activities without any consequences,” Menkeová stated, as quoted by Hospodárske Noviny.
“It is a victory of law over lawlessness,” said Oľga Cimová, co-owner of Storin, as quoted by Hospodárske Noviny, adding that the court’s ruling is a comprehensive assessment of how the country’s copyright law applies to media monitoring activities.
In 2006 Slovakia’s four largest publishers filed suit against Storin, claiming that it had unlawfully collected and sold content from their newspapers without approval, claiming damages in excess of 5 million Slovak crowns (about €166,000), according to the Medialne.sk website.
The district and regional courts ruled that even though articles are based to some degree on creativity, they can be categorised as ‘daily news’, which is not protected by Slovak copyright law.
“The courts have followed the instructions made by a lawyer upon the request of Storin,” said Pavol Múdry, the Slovak chair of the International Press Institute (IPI), in commenting on the ruling to The Slovak Spectator.
Múdry added that in Slovakia ‘daily news’ means any news which appears in media but added that “the news is not written by itself: there is the contribution of the author”.