Monday 25 August 2014

Living dangerously? Reporting of copyright litigation risk

"Infringement Risk in Copyright-Intensive Industries" is the title of a recent article by Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi of policybandwidth. According to the abstract:
We have reviewed equity research reports issued in 2013 for eight leading companies in copyright-intensive industries: two software firms (Microsoft and Adobe); two publishers (Pearson and Reed Elsevier); the owners of two major motion picture studios (Disney and Viacom, owner of Paramount); and the owners of two major record labels (Sony, owner of Sony Music Entertainment, and Vivendi, owner of Universal Music Group).

We found that the overwhelming majority of the equity research reports did not mention copyright infringement as a possible risk factor. None of the 14 reports for Reed Elsevier and 18 reports for Pearson identified copyright infringement as a risk factor. Only 13% of the 15 reports for Sony and 22% of the 23 reports for Vivendi mentioned copyright infringement as a potential risk. Just 8% of the 26 reports for Viacom and 27% of the 26 reports for Disney referred to copyright infringement as a risk factor. 26% of the 19 reports concerning Adobe and 41% of the 27 reports concerning Microsoft identified copyright infringement as a risk factor. Cumulatively, only 19% (32) of the 168 reports referred to copyright infringement as a possible risk; 81% did not.

The vast majority of the reports written by sophisticated analysts simply do not consider copyright infringement a significant enough threat to the subject companies’ financial health to merit mention to potential investors. If the analysts with expertise in these industries are not concerned about the possible impact of copyright infringement, perhaps policymakers should not be either.
This article was posted on 20 August on SSRN; you can access it here. Coincidentally, on the same date, IP Finance hosted this piece by Janice Denoncourt which mentions the question of the non-reporting of litigation risk. Presumably the nature of the risk -- and the value of disclosure in corporate reporting or in equity research reports -- will not be the same where registered rights such as patents are concerned as where unregistered rights such as copyright or confidential information are concerned, since the existence of registered rights is at least detectable, even if their immediate relevance isn't, while possibly infringed unregistered rights are an unknown unknown.

Thank you, Chris Torrero, for the link.

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