Is Creating A Fake News Story Libel Or Copyright Infringement?
from the seems-a-bit-questionable dept
Creating fake news stories has a long history on the web. People do it all the time, usually for fun as something of a hoax. Many of these stories pretend to be from respected news publications — but to anyone beyond the most casual observer, it should be obvious that they’re fakes, based on the fact that they’re not hosted on the actual publications’ website. However, that’s apparently not enough for some. Romenesko points out that the Oklahoma Publishing Company (publishers of The Oklahoman) and sports writer Jake Trotter are suing a guy who wrote up a fake article (using Trotter’s byline) and posted it on his own website. The news report covering this is in the Oklahoman’s own paper, so it doesn’t share the guy’s side. However, a look around various blogs shows what you’d expect: he did it as a silly hoax because he’s a fan of Nebraska’s football team over Oklahoma’s. So he created a silly fake news story about some Oklahoma players. Yes, it was stupid, but sports fans do plenty of stupid things against opposing teams.
There isn’t any indication that anyone actually believed this fake story was true. It was only posted on a site whose domain was clearly someone rooting for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, rather than on the Oklahoman’s actual website. It’s difficult to see what sort of “damages” this story could have had on anyone. Yes, it was a stupid hoax stunt from an overly passionate fan, but suing him for libel, copyright infringement and trademark infringement seems like an even bigger overreaction in response.