October 08, 2003
Blog Entry

EMail Newsletter Wins Big Copyright Lawsuit

SUMMARY: No summary available.
A big round of applause to Lowry's Reports Inc. President Paul Desmond who took his case to the courts after discovering three of their $700 per year subscribers to a daily stock market commentary email newsletter were breaking copyright by redistributing it to thousands of co-workers at financial services firm Legg Mason. Lowry's won a judgment of $20 mill yesterday.

It takes big guts to pursue a case like this - especially when you are a relatively small publisher. You're dealing with legal fees, time and energy spent, and of course the fears that other subscribers may side with their peers, the infringers, instead of the publisher trying to make an honest buck from content.

Interestingly, in my experience of these cases, both publicly and privately-settled ones, the worst infringers have invariably been software and media companies that rely on copyright themselves for their own income.

Anyway, if you're concerned about nfringement, one way to handle things is to simply run a note every quarter or so in your issues explaining clearly what your copyright policy is.

One publisher I worked for used to run a boxed letter reading something like "Are you reading someone else's copy of this newsletter? Was it copied or forwarded to you, or perhaps posted to your intranet? Please contact our customer service department right away and we'll help you get your own subscription. Yes, discounted group rates are available. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're not breaking copyright law any longer. Thank you."

Did it work? Oh yeah. Lots of whistle blowers in corporate America, all ready to pucker up and blow. Then our sales team would get in touch with the company in question and sell a group sub. Only very occasionally did lawyers have to get involved.

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