Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bloomberg Use of Corporate Conference Call 'Fair Use'

English: Swatch Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)In The Swatch Group Management Services Ltd. v. Bloomberg LP (Case No. 1:11-cv-01006), the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York last week granted summary judgment to the business news publisher on the plaintiff's copyright infringement claim.

Bloomberg published contents of a conference call between the plaintiff's executives and securities analysts by making  the call available to its subscribers without authorization. Participants in the conference call were aware it was being recorded, but were told by Swatch not to publish or broadcast the contents.

Noting that the heavily facts-based conference call at best had "thin copyright" protection, the court, in a 12-page Memorandum of Decision, allowed Bloomberg's motion dismissing the suit based on the Fair Use defense to copyright infringement [17 U.S.C. sec. 107]. Although acknowledging Bloomberg made a commercial use of the Swatch conference call, the Court said its use "served an important public interest in disseminating business-related information promptly and fully." The court found Bloomberg's publication of the conference call was an exercise of its First Amendment rights and did not adversely affect the market value of the copyrighted aspects of the call to Swatch.

(Tip of the hat to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, www.rcfp.org, for its reporting on the case.)


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