LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Website The Smoking Gun reports that a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee wants a gossip web site held in contempt for its publication yesterday of the entire manuscript of “If I Did It,” O.J. Simpson’s purportedly fictionalized account of the murder of his ex-wife and a male friend. T
The “exclusive” posting of the 235-page book by TMZ.com came days after a federal judge ruled that the work’s copyright can be pursued by the family of the late Ron Goldman, who was murdered along with Nicole Brown Simpson in June 1994 (Simpson was acquitted of the killings). According to an emergency motion by Drew Dillworth, the federal trustee, the web site’s posting of the manuscript in a downloadable PDF format has likely “diminished or destroyed” the value of the book, which the Goldmans may eventually publish (and promote) as Simpson’s confession. Dillworth estimated that the PDF, which remained online for about two hours, was downloaded by “tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people.”
The posted copy of the book was emblazoned with a watermark of TMZ’s logo and included the manuscript’s copyright notation. Jonathan Polak, a Goldman family attorney, said the web site “literally reached into the bankruptcy estate and stole this asset for its own profit.” A hearing on Dillworth’s contempt motion is scheduled for this afternoon in a Miami bankruptcy court. The fight for the book’s copyright landed in federal court after a Simpson company, Lorraine Brooke Associates, filed for Chapter 7 protection in April.
On June 15, Judge A. Jay Cristol ruled that the incorporation of Lorraine Brooke was a fraudulent bid to shelter the book’s proceeds from Simpson’s debtors, namely Goldman’s heirs. Dillworth was appointed to administer the bankrupt firm’s assets, so that he could maximize eventual payments to secured and unsecured creditors. In a statement, TMZ said it “did nothing wrong,” though the site did not address questions about its publication of the entire copyrighted manuscript. While TMZ did not detail how it had “obtained” its exclusive, it appears that the book was simply downloaded from a file sharing service where the PDF was first made available last Thursday. Data embedded in the PDF shows that the version posted on the gossip site is identical to a copy that was first made available June 14 on The Pirate Bay site.
The manuscript, in the e-book format, was still available for download this afternoon, The Smoking Gun reports.