WASHINGTON (CN) – After a man subpoenaed by the ABC network accidentally overproduced documents, turning over irrelevant and confidential material, those documents will stay sequestered, a federal judge ruled.
The decision comes to the chagrin of a Gregory Slate, who is suing ABC for copyright infringement over 45 seconds of video footage that appeared on “20/20.” Slate thinks ABC is keeping “these highly relevant and probative materials” to itself, and that he deserves equal access.
In the discovery phase of Slate’s complaint, ABC subpoenaed third parties Diop Kamau and Mr. Kamau’s organization, the Police Complaint Center. Kamau produced a lap top and hard drive containing more than 100,000 files, including files of a private and confidential nature such as communications with attorneys and financial data.
ABC, ABC News Interactive and Disney/ABC International Television said they immediately stopped reviewing the documents after going through “only a tiny fraction.” They then returned the hard drives and sequestered what they had already downloaded. A magistrate judge told ABC to give Slate all documents they intended to use at Kamau’s deposition and retain the rest.
Slate balked when ABC turned over about 500 pages of documents. On June 24, the magistrate judge ordered ABC to produce certain audio-visual material but refused to let Slate see the sequestered hard drives.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell affirmed Tuesday.
“The plaintiff contends that the defendants have ‘cherry-picked useful material’ from the hard drives … and because of this he is ‘not placed on “equal footing” with respect to discovery,'” Howell wrote. “This is incorrect.”
“The magistrate judge was certainly within her prerogative to limit disclosure of this information, particularly when it is not responsive to the subpoenas and therefore of questionable relevance to plaintiff’s copyright infringement action,” the nine-page decision states.