Here’s another case that points out the perils of copying and distributing content belonging to others. MergerMarket sued Cantor Fitzgerald and its managing director on Tuesday for copyright infringement. MergerMarket is a business news organization that provides its subscribers, mostly financial institutions, with the latest news and intelligence on mergers and acquisitions. According to MergerMarket’s complaint, Cantor Fitzgerald, who was not a paying subscriber, was obtaining illicit copies of MergerMarket’s publications and illegally distributing the copyrighted material to its employees and clients. Also according to the Complaint, Cantor had been caught doing this once before and MergerMarket let them off with a warning upon Cantor’s promise to never do it again. As we say in the litigation business….”But then something went wrong….” Despite the prior agreement, MergerMarket says Cantor continued to copy and illegally share the content and has now sued the managing director, Cantor and 100 John Does for copyright infringement. Once again, since only a complaint has been filed, we haven’t heard Cantor’s side of the story and they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. However, this case again drives home the necessity of understanding the parameters of any subscriptions your organization may have. Before you disseminate copies internally to your own employees, make sure you have the right to do that. Further, you should be extremely careful before providing copies of copyrighted material to those outside your company because nearly all paid subscription services would frown upon such a practice. While there may be limited circumstances in which you could legally do this, you can save yourself and your company a lot of headaches by legally licensing any content you use in your business and complying with the express terms of the license. As expensive as it may seem, I can assure you it is a whole lot cheaper than mounting a defense to a copyright infringement lawsuit.
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