Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has accused Yahoo! of “free-riding” on the print publisher to drive up page views and maximise advertising dollars, as a much-watched legal tussle between old and new media rumbled on in Singapore on Wednesday evening.
In a statement to the stock exchange hours ago, SPH said the United States Internet company had plagiarised its articles by “substantially reproducing the words and expressions used in SPH’s articles without permission”.
SPH alleged that Yahoo! had reproduced ”identical paragraphs, sentences, phrases and/or words of SPH’s articles and the paraphrasing of sentences, phrases and/or words in SPH’s articles by merely replacing them with synonyms”.
The Singapore publisher also said that it could bring up more evidence of further copyright infringements, beyond the 23 instances it had raised earlier, after it filed its defence in the High Court on Wednesday to a Yahoo! counter-suit.
The legal dispute first broke out in November, when SPH sued Yahoo’s Southeast Asia outfit and claimed that the online group had reproduced 23 of its newspaper articles without permission. Yahoo! swiftly denied this and counter-sued SPH for copyright infringement, alleging that SPH’s Stomp citizen journalism site had infringed on its copyright on at least two occasions.
To this, SPH claimed on Wednesday that Yahoo! had only acquired the copyright to the content a day before it counter-sued, and thus did not own the content when they were first posted by third parties on the SPH site.
As the two media giants lock horns, the tussle is being closely watched as the first such challenge between old and new media here.
The dispute is also played out against a backdrop of increasingly tight competition for Internet “eyeballs”, as more of Singapore’s well-connected news consumers head online for the latest breaking stories and commentaries.