Bennett J’s reasons for ruling that Fairfax does not hold copyright in the Australian Financial Review’s headlines have now been published.
In conclusion, Bennett J stated:
159 As to the subsistence of copyright in the contended works, I have reached the following conclusions:
- None of the ten selected headlines are capable of being literary works in which copyright can subsist.
- Fairfax has failed to prove that any of the ten selected Article/Headline Combination is a discrete work of joint authorship in which copyright can subsist.
- Copyright subsists in the Article Compilation and the Edition Work in each of the June and November editions as original literary works and this copyright is owned by Fairfax.
- Even if the Article/Headline Combination constitutes a copyright work, Reed does not take a substantial part of such a work.
- Reed does not take a substantial part of either the Article Compilation or the Edition Work.
- Reed’s conduct in reproducing and communicating the AFR headlines as part of the Abstracts is a fair dealing for the purpose of reporting news such that Reed’s conduct would not constitute an infringement of copyright by reason of s 42(1)(b) of the Act;
- Fairfax is not estopped from asserting that Reed’s reproduction and communication of AFR headlines in the Abstracts as part of the ABIX service amounts to infringement of its copyright in the contended works.
 is strikingly reminiscent of her Honour’s ruling at first instance in IceTV. As you will see from , her Honour also addressed the fair dealing defence and rejected Reed’s argument that Fairfax was estopped.
While the courts have been careful not to say there can never be copyright in film titles and the like, one wonders, if there wasn’t copyright in The Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo, whatever were they thinking?
The Australian (rather ironically given News Corp’s campaign) has some fun at Fairfax’ expense picking out some key points and repeats Alan Kohler’s question what would they have achieved commercially even if they succeeded?
Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Reed International Books Australia Pty Ltd  FCA 984