To steal a line from Mark Twain, the many, varied, and breathless accounts of our demise have been much exaggerated. By that, I am referring to reports that we received a “cease-and-desist” letter from News-Press owner Wendy P. McCaw’s attorney David Millstein, promptly wet our pants, and then cravenly caved. Please! Give me a break.
These are the facts. The Independent received a letter from Millstein alleging copyright and trade-secret infringement because we posted as a link on our Web site the unpublished news account of the mass resignations that rocked that paper two weeks ago, written by NP reporter Scott Hadly. We posted the article because it nicely illustrated the charge that News-Press owners and publishers were squelching legitimate news articles that painted them in an unflattering light. Upon getting Milstein’s letter we consulted two separate attorneys to see where we stood. Based on the advice of both, it turned out we stood on shaky legal ground. Hadly worked for the News-Press at the time he wrote the article; as such, the article was News-Press property. We didn’t have permission to use it. Based on this advice, we opted to pull the link containing Hadly’s article from our Web site. Does this constitute caving? Hardly.
Seems to me more like getting out of the way of an oncoming truck. Certainly, it’s hardly silenced us on the subject of the News-Press debacle. This week’s Indy contains two full pages devoted to the meltdown (Angry Poodle Barbecue and Barney Brantingham’s On the Beat) and we’ll continue to provide the most thorough coverage of the whole mess. But thanks for noticing. — Nick Welsh