Local Newspaper Sues Other Local Paper Over 'Stolen' Obituaries

from the hot-news,-dead-news dept

What is it with newspapers suing each other these days, rather than actually focusing on adding value? Eric Goldman alerts us to the news that the Scranton Times sued the competing Wilkes-Barre newspaper over "copied" obituaries. There are numerous problems with the lawsuit, not the least of which is that funeral homes often write the obituaries themselves (meaning the newspaper might not have any copyright claim to them in the first place) and distribute them to multiple papers (meaning they probably weren't even copied directly, but came from the same third party source). Luckily, the court has thrown out most (though not all) of the charges, including another attempt to revive the troubling "hot new" concept. It's good to see the court shoot that particular argument down quickly. In the meantime, Scranton Times: seriously? Is there really nothing better to be doing with your time and money than suing another paper for having the same obituaries?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 6:45pm

    Oh - man !!!
    Sounds like a couple of vultures squalking ...
    This is sick.

     

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  2.  
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    Jesse, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 6:57pm

    "In the meantime, Scranton Times: seriously? Is there really nothing better to be doing with your time and money than suing another paper for having the same obituaries?"

    It's Scranton. What do you think?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    Re:

    It's either this, or go into the paper distribution business.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 8:13pm

    Sad and Depressing...

    I wrote my father's obituary and paid to have it placed in two local papers. I would have been thrilled had other papers picked the obituary up at no charge. Indeed, I purchased a number of copies of the paper for family members unable to come to the funeral, just because of the obituary.

     

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  5.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 3:47am

    Bright side time!

    Look at it this way, if the paper loses the lawsuit (which it should), all those lawyer fees do nothing but send this rag to its grave faster.

    So it sounds like a positive to me, not a negative.

    Not my problem if they're squandering cash this way, but subscribers should be on the phone today to cancel future deliveries.

     

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  6.  
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    Dave, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    I dunno, I've always chosen my news source by the originality of their obits. I mean if it wasn't for a listing of who died recently, what would I need a newspaper for?

     

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  7.  
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    Steve L, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    I work for a small newspaper, we get about 75% of our obits from funeral homes. Even when they are placed by family members, it's not like we sit there and write it out for them, they are written and ready to go, all we have to do is type them into the system and it's done. It is a nice stream of revenue though, they are incredibly expensive (lots of lines = lots of money, the bigger the better). Hopefully this dying fad doesn't go away anytime soon.

    So do your local newspaper a favor, when you die, make up a bunch of stuff you accomplished and run a 14in obit.

     

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  8.  
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    Yakko Warner, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    Hopefully this dying fad doesn't go away anytime soon.

    I see what you did there. ;)

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    "...funeral homes often write the obituaries themselves ... and distribute them to multiple papers..."

    Well your only a blogger so no need to try to find who actually wrote the obit's in question or whether that had anything to do with the bit that were thrown out - brilliant reporting Mike, you'll replace a news paper yet.

    Watch out Goldman doesn't sue you for copying his blog almost word for word.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Travis, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    *Eagerly awaiting Weird Harold's response*

     

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  11.  
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    pr, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Hot and New?

    Does anybody else find humor in associating the phrase "hot and new" with an obituary?

    Victor Frankenstein, maybe. Or more likely Froederick.

    "Check the Scranton Times for hot, new bodies, Igor. They always have the freshest obituaries."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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