Dr. Phil's production company is suing Gawker Media over its use of an interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax.
The suit claims the company, via its sports blog Deadspin, posted the best parts of the interview online before it had aired in the majority of Dr. Phil markets.
The lawsuit also criticizes the entire "system" of content aggregation.
"A remora is a fish, sometimes called a suckerfish, which attaches itself to other fish like sharks," reads the legal complaint filed this week in Texas.
"The host fish gains nothing from the relationship but the remora is enriched by obtaining benefits (usually food and transportation) from the host."
"Gawker received substantial benefits from its infringement but [Dr. Phil] received nothing that is, unless its damages are compensated in this lawsuit."
Part one of the two-part interview ended on a cliffhanger, leaving viewers unsure if Tuiasosopo would speak in the female voice that allegedly duped Te'o.
In part two Tuiasosopo spoke in the bogus Lennay Kekua's voice.
The lawsuit alleges that Deadspin stole said copyrighted material and made it available online, resulting in lower ratings for the second episode.
The video of the second show is said to have been posted online by the sports blog "hours before the Dr. Phil Show aired to over 98% of its viewers."
Filed on behalf of Dr. Phil by his company's lawyers, the lawsuit seeks actual damages at an amount to be proven at trial, plus punitive damages.
Without any settlement, the lawsuit poses an interesting legal debate.
Is posting excerpts of TV shows online when not all time zones have seen the on-air broadcast covered by fair use exceptions to copyright law?
When judges examine fair use, they examine the purpose and character of use, the nature of the work, the amount used and the effect of the use on the market.
Deadspin, it is worth noting, was the site that originally broke the Manti Te'o story in January, igniting one of the most sensational media storms of the year.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo impersonated the fictitious Lennay Kekua, whose "relationship" with the Notre Dame star became a huge national story after she "died."