Dr. Phil McGraw is suing sports website Deadspin and its parent company, Gawker Media, claiming it caused his ratings to drop by posting a video from his show where he interviewed Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, before the interview had aired — in most markets.
McGraw alleges copyright infringement in the complaint filed in Texarkana, Texas, asking for unspecified damages, reports Deadline.
The complaint, which you can read here, reads, “Gawker deliberately set out to get ‘the jump’ on the rest of the country and ‘scoop’ ‘Dr. Phil’ with his own content. They did not earn that right, they stole it. … They did not ask permission, they blatantly and knowingly infringed the copyright of the content owner and did so in a way that furthered their interest to the maximum and undercut the rightful owner of the protected material.”
The interview in question was aired over two episodes of “Dr. Phil” on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The show teased a cliffhanger on the first episode that during the second half of the interview, Tuiasosopo would “reveal” the voice that he used to fool Te’o.
“In a premeditated plan to steal … copyrighted material, Deadspin posted the video of the second show … not later than 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, hours before ‘Dr. Phil’ aired to over 98% of its viewers,” reads the complaint. It claims Deadspin misappropriated the video and ruined the cliffhanger, causing ratings to drop for the second episode.
Here is the Deadspin post in question. The problem with the suit is that while “Dr. Phil” airs in the afternoon in most markets, it does air earlier on the East Coast, including markets in Connecticut, Maine, Boston, Mass. and Philadelphia, PA, which means video from the actual broadcast could easily be obtained from someone in one of those markets.
In fact, according to “Dr. Phil’s” own TV listings, the show airs at 6 a.m. in Philadelphia, which means by the time Deadspin posted the video, it had been several hours since the second part of the interview aired.