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Trump lawsuit claims Woodward audiobook violates copyright

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Monday against journalist Bob Woodward, claiming he never had permission to publicly release interview recordings made for the book “Rage.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pensacola, Florida, against Woodward, his publisher Simon & Schuster Inc., and the publisher’s parent company Paramount Global. Trump’s attorneys are seeking nearly $50 million in damages.

Simon & Schuster and Woodward released a joint response saying Trump’s lawsuit is without merit, and they will aggressively defend against it.

“All these interviews were on the record and recorded with President Trump’s knowledge and agreement,” the statement said. “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 lawsuit claims that Trump consented to being recorded for a series of interviews between December 2019 and August 2020, but only for a book Woodward was working on. “Rage” was published in September 2021. Trump claims Woodward and Simon & Schuster Inc. violated his copyright by releasing the audio recordings in November 2022 as “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump.”

The copyright lawsuit comes just weeks after a federal judge in West Palm Beach sanctioned Trump and one of his attorneys, ordering them to pay nearly $1 million for filing what the judge said was a bogus lawsuit against Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton and others.

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks accused Trump in a Jan. 19 filing of a “pattern of abuse of the courts” for filing frivolous lawsuits for political purposes, which he said “undermines the rule of law” and “amounts to obstruction of justice.”

Citing Trump’s recent legal action against the Pulitzer Prize board, the New York attorney general, big tech companies and CNN, Middlebrooks described Trump as “a prolific and sophisticated litigant” who uses the courts “to seek revenge on political adversaries.”