The media landscape is an unfair playground

I always find it interesting when two children fight. They come up with the most bizarre accusations before it either ends in a fist fight or tears.

Here I of course refer to Caxton-owned Moneyweb and Media24’s Fin24 as the children and their copyright case the actual fight.

The allegations started back in September 2013 when Moneyweb first accused Fin24 of copyright infringement. In May 2015, they took Fin24 to court, but the final ruling was only made later on.

Now I don’t always enjoy children fighting, unless it’s for a good cause, that is.

What Moneyweb’s accusations highlighted was that our country’s Copyright Act is ancient. 1978-ancient. That’s 38 years ago for those too lazy to do the math. The internet didn’t even exist back then! Yet these two online news agencies had to adhere to old-school print laws.

Maybe that is why the South African media, especially online, sat up and took notice in May when the Moneyweb versus Fin24 case finally received the conclusive ruling.

But what led to last year’s court case? Basically Moneyweb alleged that Fin24 unlawfully aggregated seven of its articles and wanted them removed from their website.

According to Moneyweb these articles all contained content that was original and created at great expense to the company. To Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk, this was a massive violation and termed it “systematic plagiarism on an industrial scale”.

At this point I like to imagine one child calling out the other for cheating in a game of hide-and-seek. They bring in an adult to make the ruling and, to the crying child’s dismay, the other one gets off scot-free.

But let’s return to the real world, shall we? Moneyweb probably thought they were going to win their case, seeing as our country still adheres to the abovementioned old-school ‘print’ Copyright Act, the one from 1978.

However, that’s not what happened. The South Gauteng High Court ruled Moneyweb’s claims as “extravagant” and that Fin24 only committed copyright infringement on one of the articles in question.

And Moneyweb’s originality claim? Well, in terms of originality, the Copyright Act states that an article needs to prove its ingenuity and uniqueness in order to qualify for protection.

Moneyweb failed to prove that four of their articles were completely original, leaving a red-faced Van Niekerk.

Next, Judge Daniel Berger found that only three of their articles were actually original enough to warrant any interest. Extravagant, for sure.

What’s noteworthy though, is that Berger found that two of the original articles were adequately aggregated by Fin24, where they didn’t duplicate sizeable chunks from the primary copy.

Though, according to Berger, the previously mentioned naughty article was almost identical to the original. It’s rather disappointing that only one article was declared plagiarised. You can only imagine Moneyweb’s frustration.

But this memorable court case reached its crescendo with a specific ruling by Judge Berger. A ruling that will undoubtedly change the South African online media landscape and its view on copyright infringement.

He ruled that if a website used a hyperlink in its article to refer back to the original one, it would count as adequate and satisfactory in terms of citing the source.

I suppose this was the coup de grâce in Moneyweb’s case. This ruling effectively told them that they could do nothing about Fin24’s aggregation and then slammed the door in their face.

But not before billing them, of course. Moneyweb has to pay 70% of Media24’s legal costs. Now that was the last nail in the coffin.

Returning, if I may, to the playroom fight analogy, we find the child who cried foul-play did not get the justice they craved but instead got detention.

Perhaps they got detention for not being a team player, not willing to share and wanting all the glory for themselves.

Media24’s chief executive Esmaré Weideman spoke a lot of truth in her response to the ruling. She pointed out that finding and reporting of stories that are of interest to the public should not be monopolised.

“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,” said Weideman. Kind of like this article.

Her point that such a move would destroy a lot of careers is a valid one. If we all had to find our own original story every time, the media industry would come to a standstill.

What emerged as a playground fight enlightened us to the fact that our Copyright Act is ancient and is begging for an update. It also highlighted what procedures online media need to take in the future, and most importantly, that life is not fair.

Five student wheels worth considering

You’re a Stellies student and you’re considering a new car, you want to stand out but not break the bank. This year offers some enticing new models and below is a list that is both budget-friendly, yet still trendsetting.

The cars listed here are all priced below the crucial R200k price bracket, which makes them worth considering whether you’re a student or a working city-slicker.

They were mainly chosen based on price, as this is a big deciding factor. Features of the car were also considered as well as safety and reliability.

In alphabetical order, they are;

  • Citroen C1 – This boutique city-car is fresh off the boat and features funky styling; like the split headlights, LED-accents and tinted-glass boot lid. It’s also the most fuel-efficient car in this list. If you decide on the priciest model, the Airscape, you’ll get a folding fabric roof – neat! The C1 comes standard with a 7-inch touch-screen as well as six airbags.

“I like that my [C1] can accelerate fast, but the air-conditioner’s circulation is quite bad,” says Christine Collett, a final-year BA Social Work student.

  • Fiat Panda – Often ignored because of its prettier sister, the Fiat 500, the Panda is cheaper and definitely more spacious. With five doors instead of three, you can easily pack in more friends. Its tiny engine means it’s very fuel-efficient. The Panda comes standard with all the tech any student demands, including an adorable name.

“I love that [the Panda] is cute and reliable, never had a problem with it,” says Claire Atkinson, a final-year B.Com student.

  • Honda Brio – The Brio offers a punchy engine and reliability your dad would be proud of. Featuring the most powerful engine in this list, the Brio offers pace for not a lot of dosh. It’s also offered with the essential tech, making it a sensible buy. Just pick the black interior and not the fading beige colour that comes as standard.

“It’s so [fuel] efficient and really has power for its size, I love it,” says Clarice Coetzee, a BA Politics student, about her Brio.

  • Smart ForFour – Having just gone on sale in South Africa, this Smart is a must-have for any respectable trendsetter. With its two-tone paint-work it’s sure to turn more than a few heads. Surprisingly affordable, this city runabout is rear-engined as well as rear-wheel drive, like some sports cars. Pick the priciest model and you get niceties like touch-screen infotainment, cruise control and LED accents in the headlights.
  • Suzuki Celerio – This Japanese tot comes with all the toys you need; six airbags, electronic stability programme [ESP], Bluetooth, electric windows, etc. The boxy shape of the Celerio means it’s got lots of space inside – loading up your mates won’t be a hassle.

“The boot is nice and big, but [the Celerio] struggles when it’s fully loaded,” says Antoinette Mills, a Stellenbosch resident.

According to the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), the December 2015 sales figure for these five cars combined was only 302 units. Which is only 0.9% of the entire passenger car sales figure for the same period.

Dana Snyman – ʼn storie-sendeling

Dana Snyman sien homself as ʼn storie-sendeling, iemand wat alles doen wat hy kan om die evangelie van stories uit te dra.

“Mense het stories op ʼn manier net so nodig as wat hulle brood en water nodig het om te kan leef,” sê die bekende storieverteller.

Wat In die Bloukamp, sy agste boek, anders maak is dat dit geïnspireer is deur sosiale media.

“Facebook is ʼn wonderlike plek om mense se stories te sien,” sê Dana. Hy het ʼn paar jaar gelede begin om stories op sy Facebook-bladsy te deel. Al die positiewe reaksie van die publiek het hom geïnspireer om ʼn bundel uit dié inskrywings saam te stel.

Nadat hy as misdaadverslaggewer by Beeld gewerk, het Huisgenoot en die reistydskrif Weg gevolg. As joernalis het hy Suid-Afrika platgereis en menigte mense ontmoet. Deesdae is Dana meer as gelukkig in Jacobsbaai aan die Weskus met sy drie honde. Hy is nou ʼn voltydse vryskutskrywer.

Dana het die vermoë om stories te vertel wat nostalgie opwek en hy gebruik sentimentaliteit in sy stories wat baie Afrikaners waardeer en wat soms ʼn traan uitlok. Op dié manier het hy ʼn volksliefling geword.

Hy beantwoord dieper vrae met geesdrif en is passievol oor die rol van stories vertel met woorde, eerder as beelde.

“Die geskrewe woord moet toenemend buig voor die visuele media. Daar is baie redes daarvoor, maar soms dink ek dis sommer net luiheid en gemaksug.”

Dana voel in Suid-Afrika se huidige politieke omstandighede moet Afrikaanse storievertellers “toenemend sensitief wees vir wat [hulle] sê.”

Hy meen dat mense deesdae dit makliker vind om ander te beskuldig wanneer hulle, hulle vrese uitspreek in die openbaar, en dat ons met meer simpatie en takt na mekaar moet begin luister.

“Die tong en die oor is vir my ewe belangrik.”

Hy voeg by dat Woordfees nog van altyd af sy gunstelingfees was; vir die min lawaai, sinvolle gesprekke, en dít boonop nog in ʼn mooi dorp.

 

 

Play aims to change opinions

Breughel Theatre – “You can’t change people’s perception with one play, but you can plant a seed to start awareness.”

This is how Jason Jacobs talked about As, a Woordfees production which deals with homophobia in South Africa.

As is a newly-translated play that looks at the attitudes towards gay people in the country; as well as the notions of family, love and acceptance. The play is a 2015 Standard Bank Ovation Award winner and traces the life of a young gay man through the eyes of six characters.

“In a society where being different is frowned upon, he aims to find a place where he feels comfortable and safe,” said Jacobs.

After the lead character comes out to his parents, they send him away from their small town to the city, in order to protect him, as well as to offer more opportunities. The play highlights the humanity of the characters and addresses the ideas of family and love.

As sends a powerful message of acceptance by family, but it is also about regret when it’s too late. Audiences at the Woordfees have been moved by theme of the play, as well as by the excellent acting and seamless switching between characters of the two-man cast.

“We used the same actors who starred in the original, Ashes, as they knew the story line and were thankfully both bilingual,” said director Philip Rademeyer.

Rademeyer is known for plays that include Siembamba and The View.

The drive behind the play is the violence against gay, lesbian and transgender people in South Africa. It was specifically inspired by three accounts of extremely violent murders of gay men in the greater Cape area in 2014. These attacks remained largely unreported in mainstream media. As attempts to highlight these issues in a way that will spark a debate and force society to acknowledge these issues.

“In one of the accounts a man was set on fire and I used that as a metaphor in that ashes is the remains after something is burnt,” Rademeyer said about the title.