Welkom Yizani holds at issue price – but its Media24 managers decide to go to war against Moneyweb

Welkom Yizani had its first positive trading session today. The shares gained 55c in the session to end at 1005c – fractionally higher than the issue price of R10. Shareholders can be pleased, however, that they are actually able to trade. The Equity Express platform has coped well – in the first day trading twice the number of shares that caused MTN Zakhele’s platform to crash. It has coped well since, handling more than 150 deals on the next two days. Welkom Yizani’s sole asset is 15% of Media24, the local print, online and magazine titles of Naspers. Over the years, Naspers has been drawn into numerous court actions by highly litigious local competitor Caxton. That’s the company which, during my semi-sabbatical, acquired control of Moneyweb, the business I started. Moneyweb is suing Media 24 over alleged copyright infringements. As a significant shareholder in Moneyweb (11%) I was hoping the matter would be settled amicably and management of my old company could focus their minds on running the business. And getting it back to profitability. After today’s announcement that Media24 is going to defend all charges in the High Court, that hope has evaporated. Like Welkom Yizani shareholders, I can only stand by and watch as our shareholders’ resources are used to make lawyers even richer because of the managers differing on an apparent matter of principle. Here’s the SAPA story. – AH 

Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk: As a shareholder, I'd prefer he focused on stories, not law suits.
Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk: As a shareholder, I’d prefer he focused on producing content, not making lawyers richer.

From the SA Press Association:

Media24 denied on Wednesday that it plagiarised seven stories by Caxton’s online business news service Moneyweb.

“There is no copyright or exclusivity in news items. No copyright exists on facts, figures, names, places, or even quotes in news stories,” Media24 said in a statement.

“These elements are not original to the reporter, and copyright and exclusivity do not arise when one reports them, even in the first report.”

Moneyweb is suing Fin24, the online business news service of Media24, for alleged copyright infringement, plagiarism, and unlawful use of Moneyweb’s content.

On December 5, Fin24’s legal team filed their answer to the Moneyweb charges.

“In the seven articles that Moneyweb complained about, Fin24 sourced news elements from Moneyweb and clearly indicated them as the source,” it said.

“This practice, of publishing news with accreditation, is an integral part of how news is disseminated and is done in all media, including TV, radio, print, and online. Even by Moneyweb.”

Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk said he received the legal papers over the weekend.

“I am meeting with the legal team tomorrow morning and we will only comment after that.”

Media24 said discovery and reporting did not move public domain news elements into a “monopolised private domain”.

Media24 CEO Esmare Weideman said that to suggest otherwise would be contrary to the public interest in news dissemination.

“It would lead to the illogical result where the first reporter can monopolise a news story and prevent another reporter from re-reporting the story’s core elements,” she said.

“Clearly this cannot be, and a contrary position would be a global first and destroy much of news reporting and many of today’s journalists’ jobs.”

Media24 said the SA Copyright Act made specific exception for copyright infringement for news reporting purposes.

“Indeed, the public policy behind news dissemination is so well recognised that South African law exempts from copyright infringement the copying from articles for news reporting purposes,” it said.

“No one has a monopoly on the news. And for good reason.”

It said the stories had included hyperlinks to the relevant Moneyweb articles.

News24 Editor-in-Chief Jannie Momberg said Moneyweb’s own figures showed the success of this attribution.

“Our attribution provided far more effective click-throughs to Moneyweb than Moneyweb could have bought,” Momberg said. – SAPA

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