Mortgage Bankers Association Orders Wall Street Examiner to Cease And Desist

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The Mortgage Bankers Association has sent me legal notice to “demand that immediately remove all WAS data (Weekly Applications Survey) data, from its systems and cease and desist from further reproduction or distribution of all MBA data, past and present, in any format.”

Regrettably, I must comply with this demand. I am not in a position to defend a lawsuit brought by a major commercial organization. The cost would be prohibitive.

I have published my analysis and a chart of the mortgage applications data several times recently. I used only information that was widely disseminated both by the MBA in its press releases and published by major media to illustrate the critical public issues involved. MBA’s demand was based on my use of this data without a license: “The WAS is a revenue-generating data service of the MBA,” and the MBA has not granted the Wall Street Examiner a redistribution license, nor any permission to republish data points from the WAS.

I was not aware, and do not believe, that compiling data from publicly available sources would violate a copyright. However, the MBA has given me notice that the MBA believes that it does. The MBA stated that redistributing the WAS through the Wall Street Examiner deprived the MBA of a redistribution royalty and revenue from users who were able to access the data via this website. The MBA indicated that republishing the WAS data “from any source in the future will cause MBA future harm.”

Finally, the MBA warned that “failure to cease and desist from using MBA’s data without authority may result in legal action.”

I am not in a position to bear the immense costs of defending in court my belief that in compiling freely disseminated publicly available data, that I did not violate the MBA’s copyright. I believe that the public has a vital interest in knowing this data because it represents critically important current information about the state of the housing market. However, due to the realities of the costs of lawsuits, I am not in a position to defend publication of information that I believe is not copyrighted, and is the public’s right to know.

Therefore, to comply with the MBA’s terms of use, and their letter to me, I have removed the instances where this data had been reported on this website and will no longer be publishing any charts or data that quotes or redistributes the MBA’s WAS data. If you would like to access the information, the MBA posts a press release every Wednesday morning at their website.

  7 comments for “Mortgage Bankers Association Orders Wall Street Examiner to Cease And Desist

  1. Tvulture
    November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    It’s rough when they do that Mr. A, but don’t let it get you down. Knowing you, I bet you find an alternative that’s much better before New Years’.

  2. November 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'”

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

    1984, George Orwell

    But, it’s nice to know your work stung ’em and raised a welt.

  3. Bob S
    November 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Wow. All-too-similar to what happened to Aaron. I guess you should take it as a compliment that they considered you influential enough to be worth squashing.

    Thanks for all the excellent work you’ve been doing Lee. When it comes to real information, there’s no one out there I trust more.

  4. Jimi
    November 24, 2011 at 12:05 am

    While acknowledging that you’re dealing with a bunch of worthless MBAssholes, did you ask how much a license of their would cost? I’d be curious.

    In their FAQ, it looks like it costs $800/year for non-members.

  5. November 24, 2011 at 9:44 am

    That’s for a subscription. A redistribution license would be another matter.

    Apparently, Bloomberg has a redistribution license but only for Bloomberg terminal subscribers. About 4 weeks ago Bloomberg stopped publishing the charts on their website. Reuters had tables of the data until a few months ago. I can only speculate as to the reason why that data has disappeared.

  6. Angry Appraiser
    November 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    they are trying to recoup the
    50 million dollars they lost selling their building to CoStar (another SLIMEY data vendor).
    MBA might be the most incompetent group of financial professionals ON THE PLANET.

  7. No body important
    November 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    You may want to pass their demand on to the American Civil Liberties Union. The whole point of a “press release” is to release information to the press that is newsworthy. So, on one hand they released the information for use by the press but on the other they want to restrict the freedom of the press to speak to the press release as they seem fit. The ACLU may find that a worthy cause to pursue on their agenda.

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