2ND UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has just removed from its website PMC’s unique and original featured module comprised of source code that produced PMC-owned TVLine.com’s distinctive homepage. This egregious theft and other issues form the basis for the copyright infringement lawsuit which Deadline’s parent company PMC filed today against The Hollywood Reporter’s parent company Prometheus Global Media.
PMC had spent numerous months and substantial resources in researching and developing the most optimized, intuitive, and user-friendly way to come up with a creative, unique, and interactive featured module for its TVLine.com. The featured module was created using unique and original source code. On or around August 2011, THR copied and stole PMC’s source code for this featured module, and as a result THR’s homepage featured module is nearly identical to that of TVLine. Even the names and labels of THR’s source code is identical to TVLine’s. PMC was formerly known as Mail.com Media Corporation, commonly referred to under the acronym MMC. For that reason, the initials ‘MMC’ appear in each of the labels. THR’s source code and module still contained the initials ‘MMC’ in its labels. THR’s source code also flagrantly contained PMC’s same inadvertent misspelling of the word ‘Carousel’.
UPDATE 1 PM: Yes, Hollywood is indeed buzzing about today’s lawsuit. And so are mediacentric websites.
PREVIOUS 11 AM: For the record, Penske Media Corporation, the parent company and owner of various leading digital media properties including Deadline.com, this morning sued Prometheus Global Media LLC, which owns and operates The Hollywood Reporter, for copyright infringement. Here is the link to PMC’s complaint and its exhibits. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and requesting a jury trial, is very juicy and makes for great reading. Here is the summary:
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 http://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 http://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.