Court Rejects Idea Theft / “Hot News” Claim by Occasional Fox Guest Against Fox
In Greer v. Fox Corp., decided Wednesday, Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.) largely adopted Magistrate Judge Stewart Aaron’s report and recommendation from June 2021; here’s an excerpt of that report and recommendation, which the District Judge adopted:
The following is a summary of the allegations contained in the [Complaint] that relate to the legal claims asserted:
Greer is “an expert used by TV and radio for interviews.” During the period 2008 through 2013, he appeared as a guest on FBN and Fox News. Defendant [Charles] Gasparino, a reporter for FBN, interviewed Greer and used his news tips.
In 2012, Greer published several Op-Eds and letters in the WSJ [Wall Street Journal]. In December 2012, he approached Dow Jones with an idea about creating a healthcare-related video website as part of the WSJ. Greer’s idea “never materialized,” but the WSJ pursued the idea on its own, without credit or payment to Greer. However, Greer never pursued litigation about it.
From 2010 to 2013, Greer provided news tips to [Jennifer] Strasburg, who was a reporter at the WSJ, for articles she wrote about “expert networks.” Strasberg never informed her editor about Greer’s contributions to the articles and Greer “believes that Strasburg was reprimanded by her bosses” as a result. Greer apparently also believes that Strasburg “smeared” his name with other journalists. …
Commencing in 2017, Greer “suspected” that Carlson was misappropriating Greer’s written work and using it on Carlson’s Fox News show. For example, in 2019 and 2020, Carlson used the term “Demimplosion” on his show, in circumstances where Greer previously had coined the term “Demplosion.” In 2019, Carlson “used the words ‘civil war’ to describe the national unrest,” in circumstances where Greer previously had made the “the novel analogy that the partisan division in the country was actually like a second civil war.” In 2021, Greer provided news tips to Carlson about the nursing home scandal engulfing Governor Cuomo, but Carlson never gave Greer “due credit for being the person who exposed” the scandal….
Greer sued on various state law theories, including unfair competition, unjust enrichment, misappropriation of hot news, and the like, but the court held that they were preempted by the Copyright Act:
Plaintiff alleges with respect to his unfair competition claim that the Fox News Defendants and the News Corp. Defendants engaged in unfair competition by misappropriating “Plaintiff’s works,” including his “original an
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