Life at the Financial Times: A Chat With Caspar de Bono by ProQuest


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                                                                                                                                                     February 2010

                                               banner. The court found those actions
      Legal Issues
(continued from page 15)
                                               would meet the requirements of the hot
                                               news doctrine and declined to dismiss
                                                                                               Life at the Financial Times:
the headline itself as a part of the copy-
righted work. According to statistics pre-
                                               the AP’s lawsuit. Within months, the ag-
                                               gregator settled.                               A Chat With Caspar de Bono
sented by Outsell, Inc., nearly 50% of                                                                     hen the Financial Times rolled out its innovative licensing model
users will scan news headlines from an
                                               ‘It’s Theft’                                                20 months ago, the news about the business model caused quite a
aggregator without going to the pro-              During the FTC program, several                          stir in the industry. “People were concerned about the news initially,
vider’s site. In that case, it was suggested   news agencies, including the AP and the         but that time has passed,” says Caspar de Bono, managing director of the Fi-
that fair use does not apply because the       News Corp., indicated that they continue        nancial Times Business (FTB). “We explained our objectives, assembled a cus-
headline either has an independent mar-        to see aggregators as violating copyright       tomer advisory board in London and New York, and increased our customer
ket value on its own or it represents the      and trademark laws and the hot news             base in the process.”
“heart of the work.” Both of these ele-        doctrine. Rupert Murdoch, CEO of the               For de Bono, the FT made sound business decisions along the way. Its strat-
ments would be strong factors against a        News Corp., said that “wholesale misap-         egy of conviction, focus on the market, and sharing the purpose of refinements
finding of fair use. However, because of       propriation of our stories is not ‘fair use.’   with readers helped pave the way for a smooth transition going forward, he
the nature of fair use, the issue can’t be     To be impolite, it’s theft.”                    says. “We have a transparency about price, and we are engaged with our au-
resolved except in the courts.                                                                 dience,” he says. “And we’ve been reaping the benefits of having a direct rela-
    The aggregators’ practice                                                                  tionship with our readers.”
of posting headlines and                                                                          He cites the importance of having “platform-neutral news,” which is avail-
deep linking to articles also                                                                  able in just about any format, from print to online to mobile, including a new
raises trademark concerns.                                                                     iPhone app. “We’re keeping a flexible approach,” he says. “We let user demand
Title 15, Section 1125 of the                                                                  drive the decision which platform to use.”
U.S. Code makes it a viola-                                                                       The FT’s global correspondents pride themselves on keeping tabs on the
tion of trademark law to confuse or de-           There was disagreement over the so-          world economic situation, along with news and trends as they arise. “We’re con-
ceive consumers by using false or mis-         lutions to these challenges, both from a        tinuing to do well in reporting on the global financial picture,” says de Bono.
leading practices as to the origin of a        legal and an economic standpoint. Rep-          “When the news about Dubai’s debt difficulties broke, our editorial team was
trademarked good or service. News pro-         resentatives from Google felt that they         there reporting the news in the FT in the context of the situation.”
viders have complained that some aggre-        facilitated “finding” content, not creating        For the record, the FT’s digital side “is doing quite well,” according to de
gator practices confuse consumers by           content. But they also spoke of them-           Bono. Check out some of the most recent stats:
making them believe that the news arti-        selves as partners in digital distribution
cle is produced by the aggregator and not      and that they increased revenue through         • Overall digital revenue
the provider. Practices such as framing        targeted advertisements. Murdoch spoke            now accounts for 21% of the
the article or reposting the article on the    about the need to invest in journalism            FT business, reflecting an
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