For the past few years, it has seemed liked Fox News spends more time in the news than reporting (and opining) on the news. Once again, the network is back in the headlines, but this time, it stems from an intellectual property lawsuit against a company called TVEyes. In a nutshell, TVEyes transcribes thousands of TV and radio broadcasts to make them text searchable and then sells access to the transcripts. Fox News claims that the transcription of its broadcasts infringes on its intellectual property rights. The case, Fox News Network LLC v. TVEyes Inc. (No. 13-CV-5315), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. According to the complaint, TVEyes is willfully and deliberately infringing on Fox News’ copyrights and is misappropriating its “hot news” content. It then allegedly distributes that content to subscribers over the Internet for a fee. Fox News further alleges that TVEyes is “well aware” it needs a license or authorization from Fox News in order to reproduce its content in this manner. Apparently, TVEyes allegedly contacted Fox News seeking a license for its use of Fox News content, which Fox News declined to provide.
According to its website, the mission of TVEyes is “to organize the world’s television and radio broadcasts and make them universally searchable by the spoken words.” Fox News’ complaint alleges that TVEyes charges users a subscription fee of $500 per user per month. This is not some fly-by-night company, either. Its customers include the United States Department of Defense.
Fox News pulls no punches in describing TVEyes’ business model. The complaint argues that “TV Eyes engaged in the parasitic business of offering and providing the public for a fee copies of the television programing and content created by others.” Fox News wants an injunction, as well as unspecified statutory and punitive damages. It is notable that Fox News does indeed have its own service that sell transcripts of its programing. TVEyes has already filed its motion to dismiss. In the motion, TVEyes asserts that the Fox News’ claims are barred by the Copyright Act and the complaint fails to state a claims for “hot news” misappropriation. A plaintiff alleging “hot news” must show “time-sensitive factual information, free-riding by the defendant, and threat to the very existence of Plaintiff’s product.” We’ll keep our eyes on this lawsuit.