(CN) - Gawker stole Dr. Phil's interview with the man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax and posted it online before viewers had a chance to watch the original, the video's copyright owner claims in a federal lawsuit.
Peteski Productions, which owns the copyright to the "Dr. Phil Show," says Gawker Media deliberately spoiled the cliffhanger to its two-part interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who duped Notre Dame football star Te'o into a relationship with a fictitious girlfriend.
Gawker copied the two episodes, which aired on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, on its Deadspin sports blog, according to the lawsuit in Texarkana Federal Court.
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, Peteski says. The episode allegedly ended with the suggestion that Tuiasosopo might "do the voice" the following day.
Peteski says Deadspin encouraged its readers to "tune in tomorrow!" for the result of the "CLIFFHANGER."
"By its infringing actions, however, the CLIFFHANGER was anything but," Peteski says.
"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% of its viewers," the "Dr. Phil Show" owner claims.
"By 'tuning in' Deadspin apparently meant for viewers interested in the Tuiasosopo interview to 'tune in' to Deadspin instead of Dr. Phil."
The company says ratings for the second show fell as a result of Gawker's misappropriation.
Peteski also accuses Gawker of infringing other copyrighted material on the Te'o story, including a three-minute broadcast from "CBS This Morning." But Gawker and Deadspin allegedly "take a stricter approach" when it comes to their own copyrighted material, subjecting users of their content to a fee.
Peteski also takes shot at Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio's definition of "exclusive," which Daulerio says applies to stories "generated here and only here despite our dubious reputation as content remoras."
"A remora is a fish, sometimes called a suckerfish, which attaches itself to other fish like sharks," Peteski explains. The host fish "gains nothing from the relationship" while the remora gets the benefit of food and transportation from the host.
"The interview with Tuiasosopo including, importantly, the second show exposing the 'CLIFFHANGER'!!, was 'exclusive' to Peteski," the production company claims. "Gawker received substantial benefits from its infringement but Peteski received nothing."
Peteski demands unspecified actual and punitive damages for copyright infringement.
"Gawker deliberately set out to get 'the jump' on the rest of the country and 'scoop' Dr. Phil with his own content," Peteski claims. "They did not earn that right, they stole it. The did not conduct the interview, they stole it."
The plaintiff is represented by Charles Babcock of Jackson Walker LLP in Dallas.