Nikki Finke website sues for copyright infringement

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Nikki Finke website sues for copyright infringement

Fri Oct 01, 2010 @ 06:37PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Finke,nikki EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke has just launched another legal attack. Media Corp., parent company of Finke's, filed a copyright infringement suit today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Arthur Meyerovich and Alina Kaganovsky, alleged owners of the website, which MMC says routinely lifts stories from Deadline.

"Defendants have copied countless original and copyrighted articles from Deadline and posted these articles verbatim on Box Office World," the complaint says. "By stealing Deadline's content, defendants have generated Internet traffic, earned advertising revenue, and sold products that they otherwise would not have but for their theft of Deadline's content."

The complaint for unspecified damages lists 21 examples of Deadline stories that were "stolen," including articles posted this week under the headlines "Lucas Converting 'Star Wars Saga' to 3D" and "It's Official: Fox Cancels 'Lone Star.'" MMC acknowledges that Box Office World, like many news aggregation sites, routinely links to Deadline under a "Read More" tag. But unlike many sites, Box Office World is alleged to have copied the Deadline posts exactly, with identical text, headlines and accompanying images. (Check out the site here.) 

Parasitic news websites are nothing new. Writing for a mainstream news organization, we can attest to the number of sites that routinely lift our stories, sometimes with attribution and sometimes without. But few lawsuits are ever filed, partly because the owners of the sites are often tough to track down. We reached out to Meyerovich and Kaganovsky via the Box Office World website. An employee returned our email but declined to comment because he hadn't read the suit. We'll update if we hear more from them.

Finke is no stranger to the legal system. She is famously litigious, suing Etrade in 2006 alleging surreptitious recording, and threatening a similar suit against Women's Wear Daily in 2007. As we reported earlier this year, she raised a legal stink with HBO, which is developing a comedy called "Tilda" about a female showbiz blogger very much like Finke, and eventually reached a deal.

This latest suit might raise a few eyebrows in the showbiz media world. While Finke has generally been cordial in crediting and linking to this blog, we've heard many Hollywood journalists complain that Deadline typically declines to acknowledge or link to competitors who break news.

But this lawsuit isn't about who reports stories first or who credits who. MMC is alleging wholesale cutting-and-pasting of articles, headlines and images, and despite linking back to the source material, it doesn't appear that Box Office World has made any effort to hide that fact.   

The suit, filed by attorneys Bryan Freedman, Jacqueline Brown and Jesse Kaplan at LA's Freedman and Taitelman, alleges claims for copyright infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin, and federal dilution.

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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 [email protected]

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