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Radio station, paper agree to use of stories

Broadcaster agrees to credit Blade when quoting it

SHARE Radio station, paper agree to use of stories

TOLEDO, Ohio — An Ohio radio station's morning host agreed to give credit to the city's daily newspaper when he uses the newspaper's stories on the air, according to a settlement reached by The Blade and WSPD-AM.

Both sides will "agree to friendly competition from now on," host Mark Standriff said recently.

In a lawsuit filed in September, the newspaper accused the station and Standriff of "pirating" stories and using them on the air as if they were the station's.

The agreement signed last week by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Bowman said Standriff is free to use short excerpts and to comment about the newspaper's stories as long as credit is given.

The settlement said Standriff can use information from The Blade "only if he broadcasts at the same time a proper, accurate and fair attribution to The Blade."

The station did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.

The newspaper agreed to drop a claim seeking unspecified damages and asking that WSPD pay The Blade all advertising profits generated during the broadcasts at issue, said Fritz Byers, the newspaper's lawyer.

"This accomplishes exactly what The Blade sought out to do," Byers said. "It stops the piracy of Blade news and the use of Blade news without attribution."

The lawsuit accused WSPD of violating the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Blade said the radio station's use of its product could hurt the newspaper's circulation and ability to attract advertisers.

During his early morning show, Standriff would discuss issues based on what was reported in the newspaper and read direct quotations from the newspaper as if he had gathered the information himself, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also stated that Standriff has encouraged listeners not to read the newspaper by using the slogan "I Read The Blade So You Don't Have To."

The station and Standriff said in the settlement that the slogan is a satirical statement and they do not intend that listeners should take it seriously.

Standriff won't use the slogan unless he also says that a story he is using was published by The Blade, the settlement said.

The case could serve as a warning to media organizations that use their competitors' work without attribution, said Fred Brown, chair of the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics committee. "It is pretty groundbreaking," Brown said.

Newspapers that believe their stories are being used illegally may now have reason to take their competitors to court, he said.

Brown said he would be more alarmed if it were a news department pirating stories instead of a radio host. "That is a bit more in the realm of entertainment, and the standards there are probably more loose than in hard news."