Judge Grants Dow Jones Injunction Against ‘Hot News’ User of Its Content

By | May 16, 2014

Dow Jones & Co has won a court order to stop the London-based service Ransquawk from broadcasting its news content within seconds of publication, without permission, to traders and other subscribers.

It is unclear how the permanent injunction granted late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan will be enforced. This is because Ransquawk did not contest the Jan. 9 lawsuit, prompting Dow Jones to seek a default judgment.

The case by Dow Jones, a unit of News Corp, is one of a handful to invoke the “hot news” misappropriation doctrine, where news providers try to stop aggregators from getting a “free ride” on their journalism.

Ransquawk, whose full name is Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd, operates a “squawk” service that broadcasts audio and text feeds of breaking news, including market-moving news.

Dow Jones accused Ransquawk of “nearly instantaneously cutting, pasting, and broadcasting” content from DJX, a web-based platform bundling news from Dow Jones Newswires, The Wall Street Journal, Factiva and other sources. It said this allowed Ransquawk to offer a “pirated product” at a cheaper price.

Furman ordered Ransquawk to stop gathering Dow Jones content without permission, and disseminating it prior to publication on websites for the Journal, Barron’s or MarketWatch, or in print form. He also ordered an inquest to determine damages. Dow Jones had sought $5 million.

“We feel that Dow’s case against us is unconstitutional in as far as it precludes free speech,” Ranvir Singh, Ransquawk’s chief executive, said in an email. “If we are guilty of [hot news misappropriation] then so are a multitude of other news aggregators.” Singh added that fighting the case “would bankrupt us as a company.”

A Dow Jones spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

According to Ransquawk’s website, “8/10 of the world’s largest banks” use Ransquawk, in such areas as equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, energy and metals.

In November 2010, Dow Jones said it received a “substantial” amount from Briefing.com in another case alleging misuse of hot news. Then in June 2011, a federal appeals court in New York said Theflyonthewall.com had not misappropriated hot news by publishing rating changes by Barclays Plc, Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley stock analysts.

Dow Jones competes with Reuters in providing real-time news and information.

The case is Dow Jones & Co v. Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-00131. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Topics Legislation

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