A Vice-President of TransUnion has demanded that we remove two documents from this site that he says are copyrighted. Gary S. Friedlander, Vice President & Division General Counsel for TransUnion LLC, says that our posting of the documents constitutes “intentional infringement” and he threatens that “Trans Union can file a lawsuit against you seeking among other things: preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, money damages, and attorneys’ fees”. Mr. Friedlander also demands that we “immediately destroy any and all copies of Trans Union copyrighted material in your possession and/or control”.
There is only one problem with this. The documents which we posted are freely reproduced by other unofficial sources and have been for years. Moreover, both are substantially out of date. The TransUnion Automated Inquiry User Guide is from 2003 and the TransUnion Credit Report Training Guide is from even earlier. In the case of the Trans Union Credit Report Training Guide, we were able to locate nearly a dozen other online sources of newer versions of the manual in approximately ten minutes.
We have had several past experiences with corporations threatening us for publishing publicly available documents. Back in June, we were threatened with legal action by Visa for posting a “confidential” document that was obtained from a public website of an official government body in South Africa. That document remains available. About a week after that, we received a threat from defense contractor Allen-Vanguard which threatened us with imprisonment for reproducing a 4-page document the organization claimed was “confidential”, but was already publicly available. That document remains available. In August, we received a threat from BP plc. for our posting of a “confidential” presentation. That document remains available. In fact, despite the more than fifteen threats and takedown notices we have received from governments, corporations, law enforcement and transnational military alliances, no document has ever been removed from this site. This is because the central focus of this site is to function as a secure repository of information in the public interest. We have no intention of harming TransUnion or of infringing on their copyrights. We simply posted freely available documents to help inform ourselves and others of the information contained in credit reports and collected by credit reporting companies. We feel we have a right to this. It is, after all, our information from which TransUnion makes its living. Our social security numbers, our houses, our cars, our family members and children are all the collective subjects of TransUnion’s credit reports.
In 2008, TransUnion settled a class-action lawsuit for $75 million regarding the illegal sale of customer information to junk mail and telemarketing companies between 1987-2008. If you had a car loan, home loan, student loan, credit card, or a retail line of credit during that time frame, then there is a significant chance that TransUnion sold your private credit information to one or more marketing companies. This is why public awareness of credit reporting practices is vitally important. We hope we can help facilitate that, in whatever small ways we might be capable, by providing easier access to documents that people already have access to anyway.
The version of the TransUnion Credit Report Training Guide we posted:
Other available versions:
Here are two separate versions available on DocStoc:
This is the message we received from Mr. Friedlander. Notice that he has CC’d Matt Mullenweg (m[a]wordpress.org), the creator of WordPress, for some odd reason. We apologize to Matt, think highly of WordPress, and do not understand why Mr. Friedlander would contact him.
Subject: Confidential Trans Union Automated Inquiry Credit Report User Guide
From: “Friedlander, Gary S” <GFRIEDL[a]transunion.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010 16:11:23 -0500
To: <legal[a]publicintelligence.net>, <publicintelligence.net[a]directnicprivacy.com>
CC: <abuse[a]leaseweb.com>, <m[a]wordpress.org>
We understand that you are the registrant for the domain name https://publicintelligence.net/ (the “Website”). The Website, on the linked pages designated as https://publicintelligence.net/confidential-trans-union-automated-inquiry-credit-report-user-guide/ and https://publicintelligence.net/trans-union-credit-report-training-guide/ contain copyrighted content including, but not limited to, proprietary documents which are the property of Trans Union LLC (“Trans Union”).
Trans Union is of the view that your use of the aforementioned documents constitute infringement under the United States Copyright Act and, therefore, also under the Berne Convention.
Although Trans Union can file a lawsuit against you seeking among other things: preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, money damages, and attorneys’ fees (due to your intentional infringement), Trans Union prefers to resolve this matter without taking legal action.
Specifically, Trans Union requires that you: (1) immediately cease and desist from use of all of the copyrighted material on the Website; (2) you immediately destroy any and all copies of Trans Union copyrighted material in your possession and/or control; (3) you cease and desist from using any other Trans Union intellectual property rights now and hereafter.
This letter is sent without prejudice to Trans Union’s rights and claims, all of which are expressly reserved. Moreover, if, within ten (10) days of the date of this letter, you have not complied with the cease and desist requests set forth above, Trans Union will be forced to consider its legal alternatives. We trust that this will not be necessary. We look forward to receiving your timely response.
Gary S. Friedlander
Vice President & Division General Counsel
This e-mail including, without limitation, the attachments, if any, accompanying this e-mail, may contain information which is confidential or privileged and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. The
information is for the use of the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution, review or use of the contents of this e-mail, and/or its attachments, is without authorization and is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us by reply e-mail immediately and destroy all copies of this e-mail and its attachments.