The Mortgage Bankers Association has sent me legal notice to “demand that wallstreetexaminer.com 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.