Deadline.com sues The Hollywood Reporter for infringement

A $5 million intellectual property lawsuit has been filed by the owners of the entertainment website Deadline.com against a rival trade publication. Penske Media Corp., the company that owns Deadline.com and tvline.com, is accusing the owners of The Hollywood Reporter of copyright infringement.

Penske is suing Prometheus Global Media, parent company of Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, for allegedly stealing computer source code that makes the competing websites’ homepages look alike. Penske provided evidence that seemed to draw a parallel between the use and spelling of certain significant words on the two websites.

The Deadline.com owners presented the publication’s own online story samples to a federal court in Los Angeles. The stories allegedly appeared in The Hollywood Reporter in rewritten form within a short time after initial publication on Deadline.com. Penske used the stories to reinforce its legal position, but it is not suing Prometheus for stealing news copy.

The complaint also accused Prometheus of trying to hire Deadline.com employees who were already under job contracts.

Both companies and their publications exist in an increasingly competitive market. Prometheus recently sent a letter to Penske accusing Deadline’s editor of leading a smear campaign to make it appear as if The Hollywood Reporter was ailing financially. The Hollywood Reporter’s owners are not formally accused of stealing copy or employees in the suit, but they nevertheless denied both insinuations made by Penske Media.

Prometheus declared that Penske’s jabs over news copy theft were unfounded. It stated that sources of information contained in the Deadline.com stories were easily confirmable and accessible through press releases and publicists.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Deadline.com parent company Penske sues The Hollywood Reporter (Updated),” Ben Fritz, Sept. 14, 2011