from the didn't-think-about-that,-now-did-you? dept
Last week, after the news came out that CBS had censored its subsidiary CNET, barring reporters there from reviewing Dish products (or any product of any company in litigation with CBS) or from awarding them the “best of CES” award that CNET reporters had already voted on, we wrote a post pointing out how this was dumb for a variety of reasons, mainly focused on the harm it did to CNET’s credibility. Indeed, as noted, one of CNET’s star reporters, Greg Sandoval, has already resigned. However, it turns out that it may have been even more stupid than originally suspected. In fact, it may undermine another important lawsuit filed by CBS.
We’ve written in the past a few times about Alki David’s crusade against CBS, in which he sued the company, pushing a conspiracy theory about how CBS only went after his company FilmOn (the name of which was later changed, for pure publicity reasons, to AereoKiller) because it wanted to be the only one to profit from infringement. The argument was that because CNET was owned by CBS, and because CNET site Download.com had offered up software like Limewire, combined with CNET reviewers reviewing Limewire, it meant that CBS itself was guilty of infringement.
This was a silly legal theory, built more out of spite to annoy CBS. Unfortunately, since it was first brought up, we’ve seen many people passing it along (especially one particular YouTube video that calls out this “conspiracy theory” as fact, without any basis). However, knowing how independent CNET was from CBS, it always seemed like a particularly silly accusation, and the first version of the lawsuit didn’t go very far, though a refiled version has done slightly better.
However, now that CBS has decided to rush headlong through that wall of editorial independence it may have totally undermined its own case. That’s because, in responding to the case, CBS, in part, made the argument that a finding against it might chill free speech by encroaching on the editorial independence of CNET.
Except… in making this latest move, CBS is now making the argument that it has no problem butting in on CNET’s editorial independence (or any CBS Interactive property), which may take away a key argument it has against secondary liability for any articles about infringement. Knowing the way Alki David has acted in the past, I’d be surprised if he didn’t rush to use this in the ongoing case.