Monday, August 11, 2003
Have you ever worked at a company where unauthorized copies of third party subscription newsletters and alerts were made and distributed? I'm betting you have, and maybe still do. A Maryland district court recently considered such practices on cross motions for summary judgment, in Lowry's Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason, Inc. (PDF). [Via ILN] The case involves a financial services firm's intra-company distribution of market analyses and news contained in the paid-subscription-only Lowry's Reports. One employee in Legg Mason's research department had a subscription to the reports, which then were disseminated through the firm by way of a "morning call" to all brokers, as well as via email and intranet. The short version of the court's lengthy analysis is that the email sends and intranet postings either did or could be found by a trier of fact to constitute copyright infringement, and that enhanced statutory damages for willful infringement remained a possibility at trial, despite Legg Mason's express company policies against unauthorized and unapproved distribution of third party works. Go have yourself a read, it's a nuanced decision with potentially broadly applicable reasoning and facts, and a detailed analysis of the fair use doctrine in the business context. Lowry's has more about the dispute on its Web site.
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