Singapore Press Says Yahoo! ‘Deliberately’ Committed Plagiarism

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., embroiled in a legal tussle with Yahoo! Inc. as both accused each other of copyright infringement, said the Internet company “deliberately” reproduced its news content without permission.

“Yahoo had over an extended period of time consistently and deliberately committed plagiarism by substantially reproducing the words and expressions used in SPH’s articles without permission,” Singapore Press said in a statement to the stock exchange today. Yahoo was “free-riding” on the newspaper publisher to boost its website page views and advertising revenue, according to the statement.

Singapore Press sued Yahoo’s Southeast Asia unit Nov. 18, claiming the company reproduced 23 articles from newspapers including the Straits Times from November 2010 to October 2011 without authorization. On Dec. 13, Yahoo denied breaching copyright laws and counter-sued Singapore Press for wrongly using its images and articles on a website.

“SPH is determined to pursue this suit vigorously and to protect its copyrighted works,” the newspaper publisher said after filing its defense to the Singapore High Court today in response to Yahoo’s countersuit.

Yahoo said in a defense filed to the Singapore court Dec. 13 the articles that Singapore Press claimed were reproduced without authorization were insubstantial and insignificant.

“There is an important public interest in respect of the right of the public to be informed of current events in Singapore,” the Sunnyvale, California-based Internet company said. “Copyright law does not protect facts and information.”

Negotiations Collapsed

Yahoo approached Singapore Press in April 2009 for a license to reproduce news content, and negotiations between the two companies broke down last year, according to the publisher’s lawsuit. The Internet company relied on Singapore Press’s articles to provide content on its website to raise traffic and build readership without having to expend financial resources, according to the lawsuit.

“These acts of infringement were committed by Yahoo to direct and maximize traffic to its website in order to drive up its page views and advertising revenue,” Singapore Press said today. “This was not done for the public interest, as claimed by Yahoo, but instead in furtherance of its own vested financial interest.”

Singapore Press deliberately kept silent until a letter from its lawyers Nov. 4, causing Yahoo to continue with the alleged infringement for a year as it believed the publisher had no complaints, according to the Internet company’s filing.

The case is Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. v Yahoo! Southeast Asia Ltd. S831/2011 in the Singapore High Court.

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