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Journalists Start '48 HR' Magazine, CBS Cries Foul

48 hour magazine What began as an innocent bar-room hypothetical conversation soon became a reality -- and now, it's become the centerpiece of a brewing legal storm.

Back in April, journalists Matthew Honan, Sarah Rich and Alexis Madrigal were drinking together at a San Francisco bar, when they suddenly found themselves wondering about whether it'd be possible to start a new magazine over the course of a single weekend. Ideas were thrown around, and announcements trickled their way down the social media pipeline. Within the course of two days, the troika found themselves with over 1,500 submitted pieces of original writing, photography and illustrations for their maiden issue, the theme of which was "hustle." By the end of the weekend, they finalized their first issue (or "issue zero," as they called it), and printed it under the name '48 HR: Hustle.' In an editor's note, the group proudly proclaimed its collective determination to prove "that it doesn't take a bunch of money and lawyers to make something great."

It may not have taken a lot of money, but it'll likely take a few lawyers if the trio wants to continue their venture any further. That's because bigwigs at CBS soon caught wind of the project, and decided that the title of '48 HR' was a bit too close to its own show '48 Hours.' On May 11th, CBS assistant general counsel Lauren Marcello sent a cease-and-desist letter to the publishers, claiming the network's rights to the '48 Hours' trademark, and warning them, "Your use is unlawful and constitutes trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition."

So far, the magazine has sold about 1,000 copies at $10 a pop, which, as the New York Times puts it, "will be split in a complicated hippie-ish formula" among the participants. The entire controversy, then, seems to be just another tragic instance of an insecure playground bully huffing and puffing over what amounts to corporate lunch money. Besides, as Honan says, "Tweaking what is already there at the behest of lawyers seems very contrary to the spirit of the project." He also admits, however, that "the unfortunate truth" may be that "you can't do anything really large scale in contemporary society without have a legal team and a corporation." He's probably right, but for the sake of entrepreneurial journalism, we'd like to hope he's wrong. [From: New York Times: Media Decoder]

Tags: 48Hours, CBS, journalism, lawsuit, magazine, print, top, Trademark, TrademarkInfringement, web