News24’s editor in chief, Jannie Momberg, has rejected claims by rival news site, Moneyweb, that it took its exclusive content unlawfully and offered it as its own, as “patently false” on Friday (6 September).
Moneyweb said it has launched an application in the Gauteng South High Court against Naspers-owned Fin24 for alleged plagiarism, copyright infringement and unfair competition.
Moneyweb contends that Fin24’s conduct is unlawful in two respects. First, it infringes Moneyweb’s copyright, and secondly it constitutes the delict of unlawful competition against Moneyweb.
Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk told Beeld that Fin24 published content without permission that cost Moneyweb thousands of rands to generate, “with just a few sentences that have been changed”.
Momberg said that content was clearly attributed and linked to providing valuable exposure, transfer of audience and strong benefits for search engine optimisation.
“At no time did we pretend to pass off the work of others as our own,” said Momberg.
News24 contends that this is a common practice amongst digital publishing operations, citing the likes of The Huffington Post, YouTube and BuzzFeed.
“Moneyweb’s response to the workings of digital media is clearly an old media approach from a company struggling to retain market share,” Momberg said.
He added that it’s clear the South African law has not caught up with the times.
“We will defend these principles vigorously and look forward to setting a legal precedent for fair use and content aggregation – a practice that is as old as the free media and used by every single media organisation globally,” said Momberg.