Donald Trump is suing journalist Bob Woodward of the Watergate scandal fame for releasing his interview recordings to the public, claiming that he didn’t give him permission to use them for an audio book.
The former US president filed a lawsuit on Monday against Woodward, the publisher Simon & Schuster and its parent company Paramount Global for releasing the recorded interviews that took place between December 2019 and August 2020.
Mr Trump claimed in the lawsuit that he consented to be recorded for a series of interviews but only for a book Woodward was working on. Woodward’s “Rage” was published in September 2021.
The former president claimed that Woodward and Simon & Schuster Inc violated his copyright by releasing the audio recordings in November last year as an audiobook titled “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump”.
“The Trump Tapes” features hours of the “raw” audio from the interviews that Woodward conducted with the 45th president of the United States.
The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida – seeking about $50m or more in damages – alleged that the journalist and the publisher and its parent company usurped Mr Trump’s copyright interests and other rights by publishing an audiobook without his consent.
The lawsuit said the figure is based on an estimate that the audiobook sold more than two million copies at $24.99 apiece.
The 31-page complaint filed by Mr Trump alleged that he “repeatedly stated to Woodward, in the presence of others, that he was agreeing to be recorded for the sole purpose of Woodward being able to write a single book”.
It also stated that Mr Trump “made Woodward aware on multiple occasions, both on and off the record, of the nature of the limited license to any recordings, therefore retaining for himself the commercialisation and all other rights to the narration”.
The publisher Simon & Schuster and Woodward issued a joint statement stating that the former president’s lawsuit was without merit and that they will defend 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 favour,” the joint statement said.