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Trump sues journalist Bob Woodward over book recordings

The former president claims the published audio clips violate federal copyright law and asks for nearly $50 million in damages.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (CN) — Former President Donald Trump assailed famed journalist Bob Woodward on Monday, alleging in a federal lawsuit that the reporter unfairly used interview recordings in an audiobook release.

Trump filed the lawsuit against Woodward, his publisher Simon & Schuster Inc., and its parent company Paramount Global, in Pensacola federal court seeking nearly $50 million in damages for alleged copyright infringement.

Woodward, a Washington Post veteran whose reporting famously took down former President Richard Nixon, wrote a book on Trump called “Rage,” which was published in September 2021. Woodward then released an audiobook, “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump,” based on the bestseller featuring clips of his recorded interviews.

“This case centers on Mr. Woodward’s systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of President Trump gathered in connection with a series of interviews conducted by Mr. Woodward,” the complaint states. “Said audio was protected material, subject to various limitations on use and distribution as a matter of copyright, license, contract, basic principles of the publishing industry, and core values of fairness and consent.”

Trump agreed to several interviews from Woodward before the book’s release. But the 31-page lawsuit contends the 45th president did not agree to publishing the actual recordings of the interviews.

“The defendants proceeded with such publication knowing that President Trump’s voice is one of the most recognizable voices in the world and hearing his words from his mouth directly articulated by him, is much more valuable and marketable than Woodward’s interpretation of the interviews in Rage,” the complaint states.

In his complaint, Trump alleges Woodward agreed the recordings were only for the book.

“This avaricious attempt to reap more benefits from their ongoing violation of President Trump’s rights, Defendants have converted the audio not only into an audiobook but also into derivative works ... again, all at the expense of President Trump and without accounting to him,” the lawsuit continues.

Since the infamous Watergate scandal, Woodward has written several books chronicling successive presidents, many times gaining exclusive access to the executive in the Oval Office and his inner circle.

His first book about Trump, “Fear,” came out in 2018.

In “Rage,” Woodward chronicles the conflicts in the White House during the Covid-19 pandemic, shutdown of the national economy and demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd.

In the book, Woodward said he had 17 interviews with the former president. Trump's lawsuit alleges 19 recordings from December 2019 to August 2020.

The publisher said in a statement to the Associated Press that the interviews “were on the record and recorded with President Trump’s knowledge and agreement.”

“Moreover, it is in the public interest to have this historical record in Trump’s own words. We are confident that the facts and the law are in our favor,” the statement said.

After filing the lawsuit on Monday, Trump released his own statement deriding the “corrupt, dishonest and deranged Fake News Media.”

“This was an open and blatant attempt to make me look as bad as possible,” he added.

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