By: Jennifer Saba
Ampersand Publishing, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, is suing the Santa Barbara Independent for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets among other charges.
In a complaint filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division, Ampersand alleged the weekly Independent took two unpublished articles belonging to the News-Press and published one of them.
At the heart of the claim, the News-Press said the Independent posted online a spiked story by News-Press Senior Writer Scott Hadly about the departure of several high-level editors who clashed with the owner of the News-Press in July.
?Hadley [sic] turned in his assignment, the Draft Article, to his superiors at the News-Press, who chose not to publish it in the News-Press at that time,? according to the filing.
On July 14, the Independent posted a PDF version of the draft within a story written by Independent reporter Nick Welsh about the turmoil at the News-Press.
The Independent’s Publisher Randy Campbell told E&P that he complied when the News-Press requested the Independent pull down the story. ?They asked us to and we took it down,? he said. As of this morning, neither Campbell nor the paper had been served.
?They are suing us to get their integrity back,? Campbell said. ?They frittered it away in July.?
When reached by E&P, Hadly, who left the News-Press in July, said he did not leak the draft of his story to the Independent. Several copies of the draft existed including one that was pinned to a News-Press bulletin board by the copy desk that held several other stories, according to Hadly.
?I think it?s stunningly stupid,? said Hadly about the News-Press suing the Independent over leaked documents. ?I find it very depressing a newspaper is on the wrong side of this issue.?
Additionally, the News-Press alleged the Independent has a copy of a story written by News-Press reporter Vlad Kogan about an arbitration proceeding involving the News-Press and former Editor Jerry Roberts. Campbell said they never published nor are they aware of it.
In addition to copyright infringement, for which the plaintiff is asking for $100,000, Ampersand alleged the Independent stole trade secrets, is participating in unfair business competition, and is intentionally interfering with prospective economic advantage and contract, according to the filing.