Dr. Phil Producer Drops Gawker Copyright Case
TEXARKANA, Texas (CN) - Gawker Media has settled federal claims that it spoiled ratings for Dr. Phil's program on the Manti Te'o hoax by posting unaired footage.
Peteski Productions sued the gossip blog in May 2013 for copyright infringement, claiming the unauthorized postings spoiled the cliffhanger to its two-part interview with admitted hoaxer Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
In the first episode, Dr. Phil McGraw challenged Tuiasosopo to recreate the telephone voice he used to fool Te'o into thinking he had a long-distance girlfriend, but Te'o demurred, according to Peteski's complaint.
The episode ended with the suggestion that Tuiasosopo might "do the voice" the following day.
Peteski claimed that the Gawker blog Deadspin encouraged its readers to "tune in tomorrow!" for the result of the "cliffhanger."
"By its infringing actions, however, the cliffhanger was anything but," the complaint stated. "In a premeditated plan to steal Peteski's copyrighted material, Deadspin posted the video of the second show to the Deadspin blog not later than 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, hours before the Dr. Phil Show aired to over 98 percent of its viewers. By 'tuning in' Deadspin apparently meant for viewers interested in the Tuiasosopo interview to 'tune in' to Deadspin instead of Dr. Phil."
Peteski said Gawker's "theft of the core of episode 2 caused the ratings to decline substantially because the result of the 'cliffhanger' was no longer in doubt."
The parties stipulated to dismissal of the case with prejudice on April 30, and U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider approved the deal Monday.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Peteski and Gawker have not returned requests for comment.