John Fairfax Publications (Fairfax) has lost a long-running copyright case against LexisNexis Australia (LNA), reinforcing the previously held view that copyright does not subsist in de minimis works.
Fairfax sought declaratory and injunctive relief against LNA in 2007, alleging that LNA's abstracting news service, ABIX, was breaching copyright by reproducing the headlines of Fairfax publications, including the Australian Financial Review (AFR).
ABIX offers daily abstracts of news stories, sourced from a wide range of Australian news publications and including the AFR, to a primarily corporate customer base.
In a ruling handed down in the Federal Court today (7 September), Justice Annabelle Bennett found that the reproduction of a headline does not infringe copyright, supporting the notion that that there is no copyright protection for works considered to be de minimus, including words, titles and advertising slogans.
Justice Bennett also recognised that there is no copyright in the news itself and that it is fair to use a newspaper article headline when abstracting that article.