TVEyes Gets a Shiner in Spat With Fox News

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Though it need not avert its gaze entirely, the media-monitoring service TVEyes must narrow its focus to claim fair use of Fox News broadcasts, a federal judge ruled.
     For $500 a month, TVEyes allows subscribers to monitor, search and download broadcast media clippings from more than 1,400 TV and radio stations in the United States and major international markets.
     Fox News sued the company over that model two years ago in a federal lawsuit calling the service “a deliberate attempt to profit” from its “valuable intellectual property.”
     On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein shared some inspirational words about TVEyes before pruning the services that it provides.
     “Democracy works best when public discourse is vibrant and debate thriving,” he wrote in a 19-page opinion. “But debate cannot thrive when the message itself (in this case, the broadcast) disappears after airing into an abyss. TVEyes’ service allows researchers to study Fox News’ coverage of an issue and compare it to other news stations; it allows targets of Fox News commentators to learn what is said about them on the network and respond; it allows other media networks to monitor Fox’s coverage in order to criticize it. TVEyes helps promote the free exchange of ideas, and its archiving feature aids that purpose.”
     In this passage, Hellerstein was referring to the company’s archiving service, which he said qualified as fair use.
     The service’s downloading and date-time search functions do not, he ruled.
     “TVEyes is transformative because it allows users to search and monitor television
     news,” Hellerstein wrote. “Allowing them also to download unlimited clips to keep forever and distribute freely may be an attractive feature but it is not essential. Downloading also is not sufficiently related to the functions that make TVEyes valuable to the public, and poses undue danger to content-owners’ copyrights.”
     The company’s email service could qualify as fair use “if subjected to various protections,” Hellerstein said.
     David Ives, the CEO of TVEyes, said he was “pleased” that Hellerstein “validated TVEyes’ business model under copyright fair use, and recognized the great value of TVEyes’ service to the public.”
     Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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