Perez Hilton escapes another lawsuit

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Perez Hilton escapes another lawsuit

Thu Mar 19, 2009 @ 03:34PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Perezhilton Litigation over so-called "hot news" is steaming up these days.

A month ago, a New York judge allowed to continue a lawsuit brought by the Associated Press against All Headline News, dismissing an argument by the defendant that news organizations couldn't copyright "hot news," otherwise known as breaking news. 

Now, in a twist of circumstances, the same district court in New York has rejected a blogger's claimed copyright ownership over "hot news."

The defendant in the case is none other than celeb blogger Perez Hilton, who has gotten into many legal feuds, including one with a website called PerezRevenge.com. The operator of the site accused Hilton (real name: Mario Lavandeira) of lifting information and Hilton fired back with a lawsuit claiming his nemesis conducted a reverse domain name hijacking.

Now the original Perez is emerging victorious.

A New York court says that Hilton didn't infringe copyright because republishing facts doesn't constitute copyright theft — never mind what the court recently said in the AP suit — and that Hilton's "distinctive sarcastic and ironic tone constitutes a significantly different expression of the underlying facts." 

Hilton previously escaped another "hot news" claim brought by a celebrity photo agency. His snark seems to be almost lawsuit-proof. 

That might be good news for other websites like Huffington Post that have been accused of cutting-and-pasting a bit too much of other news sources. In a story in Time magazine, Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, predicts, ""Someone is going to sue the Huffington Post...It's not just about the volume of the content that it appropriates, it's about the value."

With newspapers scraping for survival, decisions in cases like ones involving the Associated Press or Perez Hilton could begin to shape the future of the news media.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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