If there’s one aspect of the media business that has been disrupted more completely than any other, it’s the whole idea of “breaking news.” Just as television devalued the old front-page newspaper scoop, the web has turned breaking news into something that lasts a matter of minutes — or even seconds — rather than hours. If your business is to break news, your job is becoming harder and harder every day, as legendary Deadline Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke is only the latest to discover. Finke’s company has accused a competing news site of stealing news stories, and seems to be trying to use the “hot news” doctrine of 1918 to bolster its case. But relying on laws from the turn of the century isn’t going to help make the web-based content business any easier, regardless of the merits of Finke’s complaint.
According to the cease-and-desist letter that Finke’s MMC Corp. sent to TheWrap — a blog run by former Washington Post staffer Sharon Waxman — that site has been “engaged in a continuous pattern of misappropriating content from Deadline.com, publishing that information on TheWrap.com, passing off that information as its own.” So far, the only response from TheWrap has been to post the entire letter, and to describe the criticism as “strangely worded,” since it notes that the allegations from Finke’s site don’t actually refer to any specific stories that have been copied or misappropriated. And while Finke criticizes sites that simply call a source to verify Deadline’s stories and then rewrite them, if this is illegal then virtually the entire traditional media industry is in danger of being sued at some point.
To add an extra layer of irony to the whole affair, Waxman herself complained last year about her site’s content being appropriated by Newser.com, the news aggregator run by Michael Wolff — and she sent a cease-and-desist letter making almost identical arguments to the ones that Deadline Hollywood is now making against TheWrap.
Please read the rest of this post at GigaOM