Sunday, December 04, 2022

It Pays To Blow... It Sucks To Retaliate

Today, my theme whistleblowers and the art of whistleblowing. 

This week, or so it seems to me, the copyright-related legal blogs were replete with whistleblowing, one way or another. To use a public transportation metaphor, one may whistle for a taxi, but wait in vain for a London bus, and then suddenly a veritable fleet of them come along.

Here is a lovely anecdote that illustrates the old saw.

"Veritable fleet" was an exaggeration. In naval parlance, two or three personnel carriers in close formation travelling in the same direction would hardly qualify as task unit, much less a task force, and certainly not a fleet.

So, back to why so many wise folks are talking about whistleblowers. It's all to do with the November NOCA (Notice Of Covered Action), and with 1.4 billion in fines, that means $400,000,000 could potentially be paid out to whistleblowers who claim their rewards within the next ninety days.

The FTI Law blog covers the staggering details of who did what, and why they paid such swingeing fines, mostly for failure to disclose something or other, lack of transparency, failing to keep proper records, using investors' or donors' funds inappropriately, and more.

On the same page are handy guides for would-be whistleblowers on how to report fraud, and perhaps share in a reward.

There is another article from FTI Law which makes the apparently contrarian suggestion that businesses should go about incentivizing whistleblowers. It is a good argument.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower rewards program has prompted over 50,000 tip-offs in the last decade that have led to public companies paying almost $5 billion in fines and penalties.

This is an embarrassing and costly state of affairs for some of the world’s most innovative companies, and something needs to change. If public companies want to stem the flow of fines, the solution is simple: Companies need to incentivize whistleblowers to report internally."

If one self-reports ones own wrongdoing, it is a lot less costly. It is usually a failed cover-up that lands one in really deep water.

For Zuckerman law, Jason Zuckerman  and  Matthew Stock blog about the unwisdom of retaliating against an employee who blows the whistle. The company that they cite is a prime example of everything NOT to do when a whistleblower raises his inconvenient head... or hand.

Finally, and a lot more copyright-related, Rolling Stone's Jon Blistein exposes the difficulty of uncovering alleged music copyright infringement.
Even with tech like TuneStat available, the lawsuit stresses how difficult it is to detect this kind of alleged infringement, considering how much content is out there on the internet. Comparing it to “finding a needle in a haystack,” the lawsuit suggests, “There are likely many other unauthorized uses that have not yet been discovered,” but finding them all “would be impossible.” 

Perhaps more whistleblowers would help.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 


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