It may well be time for a new Deadline.com term – “SCOLDJA!”
That’s because the gloves have come off this week between Nikki Finke’s Deadline.com and Sharon Waxman’s TheWrap.com, in the form of a February 22nd cease-and-desist warning sent by an attorney for Finke’s parent company, Mail.com Media Corporation (MMC). Though no specific instances of intellectual theft are cited, attorney Bryan J. Freedman is essentially accusing TheWrap of widespread, systematic repurposing of Deadline.com’s exclusive and breaking news content. Per the letter:
As TheWrap.com’s sources clearly are not as robust as those of Deadline.com, TheWrap.com attempts to compete with Deadline by free-riding off of Deadline.com’s exclusive information and breaking news. This is underscored by the fact that TheWrap.com frequently posts articles mimicking Deadline.com’s exclusive content shortly after Deadline.com breaks such news…
While we recognize that TheWrap News Inc. (WNI) is faced with the challenge of constant staff turnover, we strongly recommend that WNI take this problem seriously, investigate TheWrap.com’s journalistic practices, and establish guidelines, checks and balances that will hopefully prevent, not encourage, future infringement. If increased oversight is not successful, a more aggressive strategy may become necessary.
The legal case precedents cited in the letter are intriguing, as is the fact that the missive is addressed over Waxman’s head to her three bosses: COO Mark Davis and Board of Director members Ben Choi and Charles Koontz. Finke prefaces the letter on her website with an emphatic few paragraphs, noting that she “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.”