The decidedly uncivil tiff between news aggregation site The Wrap and, um, news aggregation site Newser has hit legal-threat levels. At issue: In the blogosphere, what are a site’s responsibilities when summarizing and sourcing other outlets’ material?
The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman has published a cease-and-desist letter to Newser CEO Patrick Spain. The letter, drafted by Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan and Aronoff LLP, says, “Newser … is intentionally misleading consumers/users at the expense of The Wrap and at the expense of other unnamed sources,” and “Newser’s conduct violates The Wrap’s rights.” Read the full letter here.
The Business Insider has published a response from Newser founder Michael Wolff:
This is a joke letter about a joke allegation based on a joke premise from a joke law firm (in Cleveland at that). Waxman is just looking for press to help her raise a new round of financing. Nothing here is serious.
Waxman has been trading words with Wolff for more than a week now over what Waxman sees as content theft on the part of Newser. The fight dates back to late March, when Newser repackaged a Wrap article on Beyonce and YouTube. Waxman took to Twitter, and a petty squabble was soon in full force. (Mediaite has a remarkably detailed blow-by-blow account.)
For anyone still interested in this story by the time the weekend rolls around, Waxman writes that she’ll be debating Wolff about aggregation sites’ best practices on Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” television show this Sunday.