The Hollywood Reporter admitted to stealing code from Penske Media Corporation, parent company of rival publications Deadline Hollywood and Variety, as part of a recent settlement the two companies reached to end their year-and-a-half-old legal dispute.
PMC sued Reporter parent company Prometheus Global Media in September of 2011, alleging that The Hollywood Reporter engaged in "outright theft of intellectual property, including but not limited to whole articles, content, software, source code and designs."
When PMC filed the suit, it was seeking more than $5 million in damages, accusing THR of lifting source code from PMC's site TVLine.com. The two parties settled on $162,500 as well as some other pieces that have not been made public, according to an individual with knowledge of the suit.
"The TVline.com issue was the result of an error by an outside consultant, nothing more," a spokesperson for Prometheus said in a statement to TheWrap. "As soon as Penske notified the company, the portion of site at issue was taken down. Shortly thereafter, an apology was given. The amount of the settlement speaks for itself."
In a separate joint statement issued to TheWrap on Friday, Prometheus admitted to copying source code from TVLine.com and both Prometheus and The Hollywood Reporter apologized to PMC.
Prometheus apologized under the Prometheus Global Media banner; parent company Guggenheim Partners, an investment bank that controls more than $160 billion in assets, recently folded Prometheus’ assets into a newly launched company, Guggenheim Digital Media.
“It’s never good when you’re admitting theft,” Penske told TheWrap, declining to comment further.
Penske will continue to monitor THR for signs of infringement, an individual with knowledge of the settlement told TheWrap.
That same individual said the dispute lagged for more than a year because of the difficulty in litigating the “hot news doctrine,” which restricts news organizations from unconstrained lifting of reporting done by competitors.