Blogosphere meet the future.
Earlier this week Mail.com, the parent company of Nikki Finke‘s Deadline.com sent a cease and desist order to Sharon Waxman‘s The Wrap accusing it of “free-riding off of Deadline.com’s exclusive information and breaking news.”
Short version: They are not linking and/or attributing.
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 recognise 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.
That Waxman and Finke have long had a rivalry is no secret. But the case highlights a problem that plagues many sites. Lack of attribution! Simply put, people take content (generally the “money quote” portion) and rewrite it in a way that makes linking unnecessary. No link, no traffic. But also? No credit!
This lack of attribution, something that mainstream media orgs have been plenty guilty of since the onset of blogs, but which was generally adhered by blogs as a point of respect, has been noticeably on the decline in the last year. We appear to be in a phase now where finding a way, any way, not to link is a matter of course.
As FishbowlLA notes there are no specific cases noted in the letter and the letter itself is not addressed to Waxman but her bosses COO Mark Davis and Board of Director members Ben Choi and Charles Koontz.
It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere — the legal implications if it does set a precedent could be huge for those who make a living in the online world where links are everything.
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