Former President Donald Trump has filed a $49 million lawsuit against journalist Bob Woodward, along with book publisher Simon & Schuster, for allegedly selling unapproved audio tapes of Trump interviews.
In his complaint — which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida — Trump claims that Woodward was only permitted to record interviews for a book or story.
Consequently, Trump says he didn’t grant any public release of the actual conversations.
As such, Trump has accused Woodward, Simon & Schuster, and Paramount Global (parent company) of unfairly profiting off the sales of the audio tapes and engaging in copyright infringement.
“This case centers on Mr. Woodward’s systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of President Trump gathered in connection with a series of interviews conducted by Mr. Woodward. Said audio was protected material, subject to various limitations on use and distribution,” according to the complaint submitted by Trump’s lawyers.
According to reports, Woodward interviewed Trump at least 19 times from the timeline covering August 2019 to August 2020 — with the brunt of the discussions involving Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
Woodward’s book, “Rage” was released after that final interview with Trump; and then in October 2022, Simon & Schuster published an audiobook of the Trump conversations, entitled “The Trump Tapes.”
On his Truth Social platform last year, Trump addressed the dispute with Woodward:
“As he fully understands, writer Bob Woodward never got my permission to release tapes of my various interviews with him. Those tapes were allowed only for purposes of making sure that he got my quotes & statements correct for ‘the WRITTEN WORD,’ in other words, for his, nevertheless, highly inaccurate book. The tapes are much better than the book,” Trump wrote then.
Trump’s complaint also notes that “Fear: Trump In The White House,” a 2018 book from Woodward, sold more than 2 million copies, while estimating the audiotapes could yield a similar number of units sold.
The audiobooks for “The Trump Tapes” are currently selling at more than $40.
Trump’s legal team claims the audiobooks were sold without the former commander-in-chief’s consent. They also maintain that Woodward and Simon & Schuster edited the audio files, with the likely intent of tarnishing Trump’s image.
“Far from being a ‘raw’ and unedited recording, it seems that extreme license was taken with the responses provided by President Trump in which he has a copyright interest, and the answers were manipulated to alter President Trump’s language as well as to support the particular narrative desired by Woodward, [Simon & Schuster], and Paramount,” the complaint added.
As a counter, Woodward insists the Trump recordings were “done voluntarily” and “on the record.”
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