Penske Media Corporation, the company behind Deadline.com and other leading online web sources has filed a lawsuit against Premetheus Global Media LLC which operates The Hollywood Reporter.
The company is citing copyright infringement and intellectual property thef in the case in which they state that The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has outright stole their intellectual property, in some cases copying entire articles, content, source code and designs from Deadline.com
Here’s a summary of the official filing which was presented to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California:
As most businesses or individuals who operate within the industry of online publishing and digital media understand, copying, mimicking, and/or altering of others’ content and design unfortunately occurs intermittently within that industry. However, The Hollywood Reporter (“THR”) has differentiated itself from other companies within the media industry by not only carrying out this unethical practice with alarming regularity, indeed on an almost daily basis, but also by resorting to the outright theft of intellectual property, including but not limited to whole articles, content, software, source code and designs.
In an industry where a company’s brand is largely defined and dictated by the value of its originally created intellectual property, it is absolutely essential that intellectual property rights and assets be mightily protected from thievery, such as that exhibited by THR. This is evident through the billions of dollars that are spent on an annual basis by movie studios, TV networks, record labels, and media companies, as well as the U.S. government and other countries around the world, for the purpose of protecting and defending ownership of copyrighted original material and content from piracy.
This is the same publishing and media industry in which PMC operates. Over many years, PMC has distinguished itself as a leader in entertainment and technology-related digital media by investing in its personnel, by researching and investigating, and by obtaining exclusive original content and time-sensitive breaking news stories about all facets of the entertainment and technology industries. Which is why THR’s theft and piracy of PMC’s content and intellectual property, as documented in this Complaint, is so significantly damaging to PMC, its brands, and its value and position in the marketplace.
Among other reasons, PMC is filing this lawsuit to protect its content creation and development, and to finally put an end to THR and other websites’ misappropriation of PMC’s hard-earned product and intellectual property. Enough is enough.
PMC is taking a stand against desperate and copycat news organizations and media outlets such as THR that constantly monitor PMC’s websites for the sole purpose of copying and imitating PMC websites’ news stories and original content within minutes after online publication. These copycat media outlets such as THR, rather than conducting their own independent reporting and investigation, developing their own sources and insiders, and generating their own leads and stories, simply steal PMC’s content and pawn it off as their own.
In truth, THR, faced with the harsh reality that it had become a second-rate entertainment industry news source unable to attract insiders’ attention anymore, changed ownership and re-launched its website. At first it hoped to create a competitive online presence by going after a broader consumer-focused audience with celebrity news and gossip. When consumer, retail and other related advertising failed to appear, THR began trying attracting Hollywood trade advertising again. It has become abundantly clear that part of THR’s turnaround strategy was to engage in an unprecedented campaign of theft and misappropriation of PMC’s intellectual property and content to accomplish that.
First, THR attempted to poach PMC’s key employees, by urging each employee to breach their existing and exclusive contractual obligations to PMC. When that strategy failed, THR’s owners and managers pretended to negotiate with PMC for PMC’s www.deadline.com (“Deadline”) to provide trade news for the relaunched THR website. When that strategy also failed, THR then began its incessant campaign of misappropriating wholesale content from Deadline’s website. As if that were not bad enough, THR then egregiously and flagrantly stole integral source code and intellectual property from PMC’s www.tvline.com (“TVLine”) website in a blatant act of copyright infringement.
In fact, THR was so incompetent and careless in its theft, that it actually copied the original source code labels exactly as they existed on TVLine, and did not even attempt to rename them. Many of TVLine’s source code labels, which are created for organizational purposes, contain the initials MMC, the acronym for PMC’s former name Mail.com Media Corporation (MMC). THR, in copying and pasting PMC’s TVLine source code, are still utilizing the “MMC” initials within their labels. These initials act as a clear set of digital fingerprints that further demonstrate the glaringness of THR’s theft. THR did not even make an effort to correct typographical errors contained in PMC’s source code. As of the date of this Complaint’s filing, any individual can go to THR’s website and, with the simple click of a mouse, discover THR’s blatant infringement.
Accordingly, PMC seeks to recover for the substantial damages it has suffered because of THR’s actions and to enjoin THR from continuing to steal PMC’s property. Additionally, this action shall serve as notice to all those with similarly unethical and nefarious intentions that PMC shall not stand by idly and allow such injurious conduct. To the contrary, PMC will vigorously protect its rights and prosecute all those who aim to steal its original ideas, designs, and content. [via HuffPost]
There’s a lesson to be learned in this blatant theft, sometimes it’s a lot cheaper to have your code built from the first line to the last, while adding smple attribution links to original source material wouldn’t hurt either.