James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm and Member in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in ILN IP Insider, titled “The Good Get: Interviews, The Predicates of Copyright Ownership, & Divorcing Subjects from Owning Copyright Content.”
Following is an excerpt:
“Headlines” and “titles” are related, sometimes interchangeable, items appearing atop news stories. But, in this space, headlines are usually a source of inspiration (so we can write about intellectual property issues that may interest more than just IP attorneys), and titles a bit of fun (so we can draw in those looking for a bit of lightness amid more serious legal analysis).
Today is no different, as the headlines are “Trump sues Bob Woodward for releasing audio of their interviews without permission” and “Bob Woodward seeks to end Donald Trump’s lawsuit over audiobook,” each of which inspires the question of why interview subjects, the real draw (or the “get” as it were), do not have clearly delineated intellectual property rights in the publishable interview. The titling fun comes from understanding that the language of the “good get” has, “[m]ost recently, …come to mean ‘the acquisition of an endorsement’ or ‘the act of securing an engagement for an appearance (as for a speech or interview),” but that word “get” can also signify divorce for some. That then plays off the rest of the title’s allusions to separating “subjects” from the “predicates” of copyright ownership, themselves words connoting the foundational elements of both “any complete sentence” and at times a court’s jurisdiction over infringement matters. They say that good writing, like good magic, loses its mystery if explained. But, if the Greatest felt honesty demanded explanations sometimes, who am I to quibble with such a fine philosophy (or imply by withholding explanation that my writing is good)? But enough on this title…
…and back to these headlines.
On December 6, 2023, Bob Woodward and other defendants moved to dismiss claims brought against them by former President Donald J. Trump Woodward’s publication, The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump, an audio-book also released in print. The nine-count complaint originally filed on Monday, January 30, 2023, by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, had asserted myriad legal claims, and sought various relief, all around a central assertion that Woodward had released without the consent audio recordings of numerous interviews that Woodward conducted of former President Trump. The complaint had “accuse[d] Woodward of the ‘systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio’ in violation of Trump’s contractual rights and copyright interests,” according to NPR. Trump twice amended the complaint, and the Florida court transferred the case to the Southern District of New York. Before the second amendment, President Trump received a copyright registration covering the work, despite an early registration being recorded in Woodward’s favor. The moving, response, and reply papers were all filed in the same December 6-7, 2023 time frame by lawyers for Woodward and the former President, respectively.