S'pore media house countersues in SPH-Yahoo copyright saga

Singapore Press Holdings accuses U.S. Web company of "free-riding" on its editorial resources and vows to "vigorously pursue" content infringement lawsuit.

SINGAPORE--In what is turning out to be a series of counterclaims in its copyright infringement lawsuit, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has filed a defense against Yahoo Southeast Asia and pledged to "vigorously pursue" the case to "protect its copyrighted works".

In a statement Wednesday, the local media house said it filed a counterclaim in Singapore's High Court in which it accused Yahoo for "consistently and deliberately" reproducing words and expressions used in SPH's articles without authorization.

"[SPH] cannot allow a third party to plagiarize its works without regard to the effort and resources that go into producing its content," it said.

The Singapore media house first filed a copyright infringement lawsuit last month which cited 23 articles, including political and crime reports, as examples that the U.S. Internet company had plagiarized.

Yahoo later countersued claiming SPH itself had infringed the former's copyrights by republishing articles and original images on Stomp, a user-generated content site operated by the Singapore company.

It also stated that the fundamental principle of copyright law does not protect facts and information, adding that it is in public interest that its readers are informed of current news and events in the island-state.

However, SPH said in its counterclaim that Yahoo had reproduced content beyond mere facts and information, and used "identical paragraphs, sentences, phrases and words" in its articles.

The media housed accused Yahoo of "free-riding" on the company's editorial resources to direct and drive traffic to its own Web site so it can generate more advertising revenue.

"This was not done for the public interest, as claimed by Yahoo, but instead in furtherance of its own vested financial interest," it said.

With regard to infringement allegations concerning Stomp, SPH said it had no knowledge that reports posted on the site were not original as they were reposted by third-parties.

It also revealed that Yahoo in 2010 had attempted to license its content but negotiations fell through.