AP Sues VeriSign's Moreover

The Associated Press filed a lawsuit against VeriSign Inc. over its Moreover news aggregation services in a case reminiscent of a dispute between news services and Google News.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, seeks to stop Moreover, which is owned by VeriSign, from publishing the news content of the Associated Press (AP).

The AP said it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Moreover in September, asking it to stop including AP content in its services because Moreover does not license the content. Moreover has failed to comply, so now the AP seeks damages and a permanent injunction against the companies, the AP said.

Moreover offers a number of news aggregation services aimed at enterprises, individuals and application developers. Companies can use Moreover services to collect news stories about competitors and trends relevant to their businesses. Customers can search the news database and feed the stories into intranets or custom applications.

Moreover also supplies RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to individual users.

On its Web site, Moreover claims to mine information from more than 25,000 online news sources and lists the AP as one of its major news sources.

Neither the AP or Moreover were available, past their regular business hours, to comment on the suit.

The situation could be similar to one involving Google News that irked news wires like the AP. Agence France Presse, one of the world's largest news wires, sued Google for copyright infringement on the Google News site. While the AP never confirmed it, observers speculated that it, too, had threatened a similar lawsuit.

Google News doesn't reproduce full articles, but displays the headline and a snippet and then directs visitors to the site hosting the article. Google has argued that it doesn't need to license the content because it only displays an excerpt.

Google News solved the dispute by signing a licensing agreement with AFP and the AP. Google still maintains, however, that displaying links and text snippets does not require a licensing agreement.

Moreover, like Google, may believe that it can direct users to other news Web sites without having to license the content. When users of Moreover's RSS feeds click on a story, they are directed to the Web page of the source of the story.

In its statement, the AP said that Moreover is infringing on AP's news reports on a continuous basis to operate fee-based and ad-supported services.

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