Newspaper Obituaries Aren’t Hot News–Scranton Times v. Wilkes-Barre Publishing

18 03 2009

By Eric Goldman

The Scranton Times, LP v. Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co., 3:08-cv-02135-ARC (M.D. Pa. March 6, 2009)

Oh man, how bad is it in the newspaper business? Rather than investing in building new and sustainable business models and relationships with their subscribers, newspapers are like dinosaurs trying to eat each other while the temperature rises. However, instead of eating each other, the dinosaurs are suing each other, squandering their valuable capital on low-merit newspaper v. newspaper lawsuits, such as the GateHouse v. NYT lawsuit over the republication of headlines.

Today’s lawsuit is even more scoffable. The Scranton Times is suing the Wilkes-Barre newspaper for republishing obituary notices in its Scranton edition that were initially published in the Scranton Times. But the Scranton Times has a problem–funeral homes typically write and submit the obituary notices, so the Scranton Times has no copyright interest in the notices. Undeterred, the Scranton Times sued the Wilkes-Barre paper for a bunch of junky unfair competition-style claims in Pennsylvania state court.


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