Attorneys for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette have sent a cease-and-desist order to the host and creator of Crime Junkie, a hit podcast that in March published an episode about the 2003 murder of Greenbrier teen Kacie Woody.
On Aug. 15, former Democrat-Gazette reporter Cathy Frye complained on the podcast's Facebook page that the hosts had used her copyrighted series to tell the story of the 2002 cyberstalking murder case, including passages similar to Frye's original narrative.
The post went viral, prompting the Democrat-Gazette, Buzzfeed News, The New York Times, Variety and Vulture to cover the story.
The cease-and-desist letter was sent on Thursday to the show's host and creator, Ashley Flowers, who is also the registered agent for the podcast's production company, Audio Chuck LLC.
Flowers did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the letter.
On Aug. 16, Flowers released a statement to Variety, saying the Woody episode and several others had been pulled from the podcast's main feed "when their source material could no longer be found or properly cited."
On Aug. 19, Frye reported that Crime Junkie had returned the Kacie Woody episode to its lineup, but this time with episode notes linking to credits, including one for Frye and the Democrat-Gazette.
That did not satisfy Frye or attorneys for the newspaper.
"This correspondence is to protest your unauthorized use and broadcast of ADG's copyrighted series, Caught in the Web, originally reported and authored by Cathy Frye," attorney Alec Gaines wrote in the letter. "ADG owns all the rights, title, and interest in and to its copyrights, including but not limited to the copyrights to the archival stories and photographs published in its daily print publication or through its digital properties."
Gaines wrote that the "unauthorized use of the Copyright constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976 and unfair competition under the Lanham Act."
The letter asks the podcast's producers to either edit it to "fully and unequivocally credit ADG's Copyright and Cathy Frye's reporting at the beginning of the Podcast" or to take it down.
The podcasters have until Sept. 12 to respond, the letter states, noting the newspaper "may take further action including but not limited to filing a lawsuit."