's Parent Company MMC Sends 'Cease & Desist' Letter To TheWrap and its parent company MMC is embarking on an intensified legal campaign to protect its original content. I began Deadline Hollywood Daily exactly 5 years ago in March and have seen it grow as a very successful and widely respected website of breaking news and analysis and commentary about the entertainment industry. I will not, and can not, allow anyone to rip off Team Deadline’s exclusive coverage. It often can take weeks of working our deep sources to report and write our posts. And yet a proliferating number of blogs and websites without the journalism credentials we have often post our original content 5- or 10-minutes after us without credit and/or linkback and without individually reporting the articles themselves. And merely calling a studio or network and saying, “Is this correct?”, then copying Deadline’s post often word-for-word and slapping a different byline on it, does not constitute reporting in my journalism playbook. Nor should it for you readers.

In 2010, Deadline’s parent company MMC brought separate lawsuits in Federal Court against the owners and operators of and Both resulted in the owners of those respective websites effectively closing up shop immediately after we filed suit. While those websites still technically exist on paper, they have been completely stripped of all content. We are currently in the process of resolving those lawsuits in a very favorable manner. In particular, the settlement in the Deadline Hollyweird lawsuit won by MMC’s outside counsel Bryan Freedman of the Century City law firm of Freedman & Taitelman will result in, among other things, the defendant transferring the entire domain to MMC.

Now we embark on our next phase of copyright protection. has had many wholesale staff turnovers since it began in January 2009 and at present is operating with just a handful of reporters — apparently the least amount in its brief history. As one of TheWrap’s reporters emailed to a Deadline staffer expressing his frustration trying to compete with us, “I spend my days following and getting scooped by you.” But that is no excuse for what keeps happening and is even increasing as outlined in this letter which attorney Freedman just sent to TheWrap’s editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman, COO Mark Davis, and board directors Ben Choi (a principal at Maveron which initially funded TheWrap) and Charles Koontz (a media entrepreneur):

February 22, 2011

Re: Media Corporation v. the Wrap News, Inc. d/b/a The


Dear Messers Davis, Choi and Koones:

This firm represents Media Corporation (“MMC”), the owner of the website (“”).  It is our understanding that the Wrap News, Inc. (“WNI”) owns and operates (“”).  I am contacting you because it has become apparent that and its employees have engaged in a continuous pattern of misappropriating content from, publishing that information on, passing off that information as its own, and doing so without compensating or even crediting  In many instances,’s misappropriation involves the wholesale copying of substantial portions of articles posted on  While I want to inform you that MMC and my office intend to closely monitor for any continued infringement, I also want to stress the need for WNI to implement internal policies and procedures that will discourage future infringement by, and minimize WNI’s exposure to copyright infringement or “hot news” misappropriation liability.

MMC is concerned that’s infringement on and theft of content is not an isolated incident.  Rather,’s copying of content, which has been going on for some time now, is only getting worse and is apparently becoming an institutionalized practice.  As a result, both MMC and my office intend to make a concerted effort to monitor the in order to identify and document any infringement of content that occurs on a going forward basis in case formal legal action becomes necessary.  Rest assured, nothing will fly under our radar.

If’s infringement continues, MMC intends to vigorously protect its intellectual property rights.  As you probably are aware, the unauthorized copying and distribution via the internet of even portions of content, without the express permission of MMC, constitutes copyright infringement in violation of Title 17 U.S. Code, Section 106(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976.  Such infringement subjects WNI to damages and injunctive relief.  Moreover, based on what is undoubtedly willful infringement of MMC’s rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq., WNI could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 for each act of infringement as set forth in Section 504(c)(2), as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

Even when does not copy’s content verbatim, WNI’s misuse of’s exclusive and breaking stories exposes WNI to liability under California’s “Hot News” misappropriation laws.  Like many other jurisdictions, California recognizes the tort of “Hot News” misappropriation.  See Balboa Ins. Co. v. Trans Global Equities, 218 Cal. App. 3d 1327, 1342 (1990); X17 v. Lavandeira, 563 F. Supp. 2d 1102 (C.D. Cal. 2007).  A defendant will be liable under this theory if: (i) the plaintiff generates or collects information at some cost or expense; (ii) the value of the information is highly time-sensitive; (iii) the defendant’s use of information constitutes free-riding on the plaintiff’s costly efforts to generate or collect it; (iv) the defendant’s use of the information is in direct competition with a product or service offered by the plaintiff; (v) the ability of the other party to free-ride on the efforts of the plaintiff would so reduce the incentive to produce the product or service that its existence or quality would be substantially threatened.  National Basketball Ass’n v. Motorola, Inc., 105 F.3d 841, 852 (2d Cir. 1997); Lavandeira, 563 F. Supp. 2d at 1105, 1108-1109; International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, (1918).  As’s sources clearly are not as robust as those of, attempts to compete with Deadline by free-riding off of’s exclusive information and breaking news.  This is underscored by the fact that frequently posts articles mimicking’s exclusive content shortly after breaks such news. (more…)

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