Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Huff and Puff Takes on Indie

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ampersand Publishing, LLC, owner and operator of the Santa Barbara News-Press, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against The Santa Barbara Independent. The filing charges The Independent with copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair business competition, and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and contract.

According to the complaint, The Independent obtained two different confidential unpublished articles belonging to the News-Press and published one of them, in violation of the copyright laws. The Independent was not authorized to possess or publish either article. The News-Press has alleged that these articles constituted trade secrets that were misappropriated by The Independent.

It is the intent of Ampersand Publishing to protect its confidential materials and trade secrets. Ampersand is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees.

Agnes Huff Communications Group, LLC
Ágnes Huff, PhD, 310-641-2525


Anonymous I HEART Frivolity said...

A cross-posting from the rival media freebie:

The "trade secret" argument is most amusing, because for an unpublished article to be a Trade Secret it must be something that the newspaper would consider an asset that got ripped off. So if that article were so valuable, why did not Newspress publish it on their own, especially because their own staff at the time wrote it?

Besides, all the details in that unpublished article about the events in the newsroom when Armstrong gave Roberts the perp walk, and the enthusiastic editorial staff vocal response, were details told in way more specificity in several other news articles in other publications a few days later.

None of the content was a secret, especially with all the more details in the sordid first-person account in the Brangingham opus article on why he left the perpetual Amateur Hour there at De La Guerra Plaza.

This is all about the text (a scanned page) of an unpublished draft Newspress article that appeared for a couple of days as a file link at the Indy web site. That page was spread all around and hardly was any secret. The Indy just put it at their web site.

Hell, I had the page in my hand and only regret I did not scan it and spread it all around the Internets myself, to be found readily through The Google. I got it from a far different source than the Indy, so if I had it, then it must have been all over this town almost to the point of being stapled to the power pole on my street by the lost dog notice.

10/26/2006 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Just making up chit said...

Looks like Steepleton now is afraid to put his by-line on this stuff anymore.
Ampersand sues weekly Independent
Staff report
October 27, 2006 12:00 AM

In separate matter,

injunction case dropped

News-Press owner Ampersand Publishing, LLC, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the Santa Barbara Independent on Thursday claiming the weekly engaged in "copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair business competition and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and contract," according to a statement from the company.

Ampersand says the Independent obtained two unpublished stories belonging to the News-Press. The weekly published one -- by former News-Press reporter Scott Hadly -- in July, and the News-Press responded with a cease-and-desist letter.

The Independent complied with the letter, Editor Marianne Partridge said at the time, on the advice of her paper's lawyers.

In a statement on Thursday, Ampersand stated, "The Independent was not authorized to possess or publish either article . . . It is the intent of Ampersand Publishing to protect its confidential materials and trade secrets. Ampersand is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys' fees."

On Wednesday, the News-Press withdrew a petition it filed on behalf of a photographer because she has resigned.

Ana Elisa Fuentes had claimed that onetime Business Editor Michael Todd made death threats against her. Mr. Todd, who was among several editors who resigned in July, said the two statements were jokes.

The paper sought a workplace violence injunction in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

But in a statement released late Wednesday, the paper said, "since Ms. Fuentes is not currently employed at the paper, pursuit of a workplace violence injunction prohibiting future wrongful conduct against Ms. Fuentes at the work site would serve no purpose and the petition is being dismissed."

The statement, released by spokeswoman Agnes Huff, said the News-Press "continues to be vigilant about potential workplace violence to ensure the safety of all employees."

10/27/2006 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know you could copyright stupidity©.

10/27/2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger Craig Smith's Blog said...

Wendy McCaw must have been worried that one day after dismissing her dubious complaint against former business editor Michael Todd, her team of crack out-of-town lawyers wouldn't have enough work to do to justify the hefty retainer and hourly fees they undoubtedly charge her. Invoking the "No Litigator Left Behind Act" Wendy has let her pit bulls loose on the The Independent. In a press release that was e-mailed to local media outlets shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday, it was announced that McCaw's Ampersand Publishing has sued the Santa Barbara Independent for copyright infringement.

Has the woman gone around the bend? Let's try to be lawyer-like about this for a minute. Let's assume that Ampersand can prove that the Independent wrongfully posted their copyrighted work. What's the damage? How has the News-Press been harmed? How does that translate into lost income, canceled subscriptions, unrealized news-rack sales or loss of future income? (Read rest of post.)

10/27/2006 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NewsPress sounds like such a fun place to work! I think the lawsuit is really about the Indie stealing Starshine!

10/27/2006 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And read Sally Cappon's piece in yesterday's piece in our Santa Maria Times on Michael Todd.

What a farce this is, except for those individuals being targeted. It makes an animal lover, a wildlife appreciator and supporter, like me, who shares the McCaw interests, ashamed to have anything in common with such a vindictive person.

10/27/2006 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Train(wreck)spotter said...

...and meanwhile, Travesty Factswrong continues to play make-believe on the Op-Ed pages, posing as a paragon of journalistic this a Trick or Treat spoof? they have ANY IDEA how pathetic they look?'s like watching a train wreck...over..and over...and over....

someone, please call 911-IDIOTS

10/27/2006 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

I am continually offended and outraged that both Craig Smith and others are impugning, maligning, libeling, and infringing upon the good reputation of the Pit Bull breed of dogs.

This is gross negligence and an insult to all good pit bull dogs everywhere. This dog breed is gushingly loyal and kind to people and only turns mean when abused by evildoers. Do not insult pit bull dogs by writing they are similar to anything or anyone to do with Ampersand or their Mess!

10/27/2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope this suit can be turned into a lot of lost income for the News-Press. It re-energizes me to politely but energetically encourage businesses to stop selling the News-Press (like Starbuck's), to discourage newstand sales, and to remind the few subscribers I know to drop their subscriptions.

NOTHING ILLEGAL, NEVER. NOTHING INTIMIDATING. But if Wendy lives by this kind of horrible activity, she deserves the consquences. Again. and Again.

10/27/2006 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the news-press wins. That would be great if the Independent had to fork over some money.

10/27/2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger Craig Smith's Blog said...

To Valerio, I confess that I have thoughtlessly libeled the pit bulls of the world and clad in sackcloth and ashes, I sincerely apologize. Does anyone out there know if feral pigs are reputed to be aggressive?

10/27/2006 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to stop advertising it that rag.

10/27/2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Carnage, Act XI said...

It’s no coincidence that Wendy McCaw pairs the Santa Barbara News-Press federal lawsuit against the Santa Barbara Independent with the editorial today that begins, “Journalists aren't immune to the law.”

The divorcee has unlimited funds to retain lawyers to avenge her latest whim or tantrum. The editorial suggests, accordingly, that reporters and editors must buckle under the heel of “the law,” rather than getting away with such nagging practices as “free speech” and protecting news sources promised confidentiality. An astounding position for the owner of an American daily newspaper.

From the beginning, Independent editor Nick Welsh’s reporting on the McCaw meltdown has been “smart,” as one national publication calls it.

But Welsh irritated McCaw for the last time, and, like editor Michael Todd, editor Jerry Roberts, and the union invited in to protect the journalists, the courts have to hold Nick “accountable,” to use the latest phrase from the increasingly dark Baron Neville von Weaselburger.

The lawsuit itself is bull*&it and there are no damages and the only purpose is to chill the public’s right to know through intimidation.

Her reliance since July on litigation, however, although lacking common sense and business maturity, has been a boon to the Indy, Blogabarbara, Craig Smith, Edhat and the improving Santa Barbara Daily Sound. But it also puts them squarely in her sights as huntswoman.

In the federal case at hand, Nick will be asked, under oath, to cough up to McCaw who delivered to the Indy the unpublished news story about the editors walking rather than supporting McCaw’s violations of fundamental newsroom ethics.

If Nick confesses his sources to McCaw, they will be fired, sued or worse. If he doesn’t, he may not see his wife and kids for a long time, except from behind thick plate glass on visiting days, if McCaw has her way.

Either way, Nick and Barney Brantingham and Starshine Roshell and other Indy journalists will naturally take pause in writing about McCaw and her Santa Barbara News-Press as her unrelenting attack on her own employees and the First Amendment continues.

10/27/2006 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From “Editor and Publisher,” a national newspaper industry publication.

'News-Press' Publisher Sues 'Santa Barbara Independent'

By Jennifer Saba

Published: October 27, 2006 2:05 PM ET
NEW YORK Ampersand Publishing, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, is suing the Santa Barbara Independent for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets among other charges.


10/27/2006 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Once again, the News-Press critics resort to a cacophony of childish name-calling rather than even attempting to articulate a point.

Even the title -- "Huff and Puff" -- attempts to ridicule a person's name rather than make an argument. By the way, Ms. Huff is not "taking on" the local freebie -- Ampersand is. Ms. Huff is the messenger.

The "Travesty Factswrong" comment is typical of News-Press critics' juvenile antics. Nowhere in this post is there even a shred of an argument as to why the purloined News-Press article in the weekly "newspaper" is not a form of theft.

The freebie was fencing stolen merchandise. In this case, the merchandise was intellectual property rather than a tangible object, but courts have held that intellectual property has inherent value. The freebie may be attempting to hide behind the First Amendment -- although its defenders here won't even go there, preferring childish name-calling -- but the Hadly article was undeniably the property of the News-Press. Had it been published, it would have been in the public domain and citing excerpts from it in proper context would have been acceptable.

No one, however, has been able to articulate why it's OK to fence stolen intellectual property. The freebie must pay dearly for its crimes.

10/27/2006 2:03 PM  
Anonymous I HEART Frivolity said...

I am corrected. The Newspress "article" on their lawsuit indeed has appeared in Business section and not the news A-section. Not so sure it is about "business" but they hardly have any original articles in the Biz section, which routinely are just full of all the best from Associated Press, New York Times, and McClatchy News service.

File that placement with the series of articles about fresh basil and cooking tips that appeared on the top of the A-section a month or so ago. But good to see that Maria Zate is writing again after 2 one-half months of parental leave. Too bad few people will read her any more.

10/27/2006 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Predictably, "Neville" equates the Independent linking to an article published on a separate web site with a common thief "fencing" stolen goods. How utterly delicious. Can't wait till they lose in court, and the Independent recovers costs in a countersuit.

10/27/2006 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Nelville (Travis), I will play. You accuse the Independent of "fencing stolen merchandise," as if their staff had broken into the N-P warehouse, ripped-off a bunch of "I (heart) Ms. Wendy and Her New News-Press" T-shirts, and were selling them at the swap meet down in Oxnard. Once again, you resort to using inflammatory language and wild, borderline libelous, ludicrous accusations in a lame attempt to make some sort of point.

It seems that the N-P is using the "intellectual property" case of RIAA vs. napster as the model for going after the Independent, a precedent that enables the recording industry to sue teenaged kids and grandmas who download too many Jessica Simpson songs. This has nothing to do with what the Independent did, which was to post a hyperlink to a document on the Internet to substantiate a news story about sudden staff changes at a competing news outlet. Staff changes at a competitor would constitute a newsworthy event, as evidenced by the N-P's recent treatment of the KEYT-TV news. Posting a link to a source document could be construed as due diligence for a story covering a competing publication, especially one with a reputation of pursuing litigation against its rivals.

Look, dude, if hyperlinking to documents on the Internets was a crime, even allegedly "purloined" documents, The Google would have been put out of business a long time ago, and they would have walled-up all of their Inter-tubules. It's also somewhat ironic that you are accusing the Independent of printing a leak, after the N-P leaked the "article" about Jerry Roberts' arbitration, which appeared almost everywhere.

By the way, I'll have a Coke with that Number One Combo. Make that Animal Style.

10/27/2006 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, if the News-Press came across a document that indicated that, say, Cottage Hospital was considering coding patients in the emergency room by income level, and rationing the medical help by that code, do you think that the News-Press would worry if the document were intellectual property of Cottage?

Seems to me that newspapers have a right to report, and I doubt copyright law protects a document that is part of a news story. If not, I'm sure HP wishes they had copyrighted a bit more of their internal documents on corporate spying...

Of course I'm not a lawyer, but the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is a pretty strong defense here. That Freedom of the Press clause doesn't seem to include an exception for businesses that argue they have lost dollars because something of theirs leaked out.

10/27/2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger ts said...

Once again, the News-Press critics resort to a cacophony of childish name-calling rather than even attempting to articulate a point.

You won't win friends or influence people with such transparently dishonest hyperbole, nor with your evident lack of understanding, not just of the law, but of familiar terms like "fence". Since the Indy doesn't walk like a fence or talk like a fence, you're not going to convince anyone by calling it a fence. You write as if you were on a debating team and being scored for making rhetorical points, but this is the real world with real people making judgments, and they'll judge you as being dishonest because, well, you are.

On the legal front, the N-P suffered no loss, and will be lucky not to be charged with contempt of court.

11/03/2006 1:00 PM  

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