Friday, October 27, 2006

From Suit to Nuts

As you might know, Madwoman McCaw is suing the Independent. Here's Nick Welsh's take on it:

I was busy doing nothing when I was interrupted Thursday evening by a reporter from UCSB’s Daily Nexus, informing me that The Independent had just been sued in federal court by News-Press owner Wendy P. McCaw.

In her lawsuit, McCaw alleges that The Independent had infringed upon her copyright, ripped off her trade secrets, engaged in “intentional and negligent interference with her prospective economic advantage and contract.” Translated into the English language, McCaw claims that two news articles written by News-Press reporters had somehow been leaked to me and that I was in their possession illegally. Secondly, she was upset that I had posted one of the articles on the Independent’s website in its entirety without the News-Press’ consent. And somehow because of this, her lawsuit charged, McCaw and her newspaper have suffered economic damages.

I shouldn't wade into these waters, knowing only enough about the law to change my mind about being pre-law when I was merely a freshman in college. Plus we have Craig Smith to set us legally straight. But part of me thinks that I want to be in the courtroom for this trial, assuming the case doesn't get a sane judge who will laugh his robes off and toss it out. I mean, McCaw is on such a losing streak she can't get the NLRB to give her a hearing, let alone side with her on anything.

Because if the News-Press is going to prove it has suffered economic damages, first it's going to have to admit it's lost advertising revenue and/or lost circulation. And so far it refuses to admit either, or else folks aren't passing around those Dr. (of Philosophy) Agnes Huff press releases about how poorly the paper is doing.

But what might be even more delicious is that in a courtroom people are sworn to tell the truth and the whole truth. What's Travis Armstrong going to say on the stand? Scott Steepleton? And that's about all the witnesses for the News-Press's case--I doubt Wendy will get to say what she thought was going on at her paper in July as she was on a yacht in Europe. Unless anyone wants to know what suntan lotion Catherine Zeta-Jones wears.

The Independent, on the other hand, will have 26 former N-P staffers who might actually all say the same thing. Sure, Wendy will rant that they are part of the conspiracy that at this point probably includes random people on a grassy knoll in Dallas, but it seems impossible that she can have a trial about how Ampersand's trade secrets got out without saying what those trade secrets actually are. So this very lawsuit guarantees some transparency.

I'll bet anyone dollars to donuts that the story about the suit won't be reported on in the News-Press.


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