TVEyes, Inc. is a database that allows its subscribers to search and aggregate news in the media. Fox News didn’t like that at all. So, Fox News sued for copyright infringement. TVEyes successfully argued that its use of Fox News’ copyrighted material was fair use. The District Court in the Southern District of New York held that TVEyes did not duplicate or usurp the value of Fox News’ broadcasts. TVEyes’ use was transformative because it provides a unique “database of _everything _ that television channels broadcast, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week”.
TAKE AWAY: This is dangerous ground. Not all information aggregators are equal. This case doesn’t really give us a bright line test for determining which type of aggregator is protected by fair use and which isn’t. The District Court seemed to be focused on the uniqueness of what TVEyes provides. But how unique do you have to be? What if you add your own content? What if you just provide links to content belonging to others? It would probably be best to treat the TVEyes situation as exceptional and not rely on it too much.