business news in context, analysis with attitude

CNN is reporting that Wal-Mart is threatening legal action against consumer websites that post in advance the retailer’s planned discounts for “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving that is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The letters being sent to the sites by Wal-Mart’s attorneys say that the circulars are copyrighted, and that unauthorized distribution or publication of the information could result in legal action or even criminal prosecution.

The sites involved say they have never been threatened in quite this way before, and that they have not decided how to respond.
KC's View:
I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t pretend to have any real insight into what is actionable in this case.

But I’m not sure that Wal-Mart is right, nor that its moves make sense.

First of all, we live in a world where everything is leaked, and where virtually everything is available over the Internet. By threatening legal action, it almost is like Wal-Mart is trying to put the genie back in the bottle. If it were me, I’d instead be trying to figure out how to turn the leaks to my advantage.

Here’s the other thing. If I found out that Wal-Mart planned to put certain items on sale on Black Friday, I think I could print it as a legitimate news item. I don't see how they could stop me, and I think it would be foolish to try. Advance information is sort of the currency of the realm around here…