Obama campaign misuses NSSF mailing list

It seems the Obama campaign has allegedly somehow acquired and misused one of the mailing lists for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  The message apparently included the NSSF list itself in the message.  The NSSF has issued a press release with evidence and a demand letter asking for $250,000 in damages, on the basis that the list is a trade secret. 

I'm not terribly familiar with trade secret law, but what I do understand is that trade secrets are not necessarily protected very heavily by law.  Generally, if someone signs a contract saying they will protect a trade secret, they can be penalized according to that contract if they do not.  If the owner of the secret is careless with it, the secret can become valueless such that remedies are no longer available.  Given that the list was attached to the whole message that was sent out, it's clear that the list is no longer a trade secret.

So the real question here is how the sender of the message acquired the list.  There are a couple obvious scenarios -- a disgruntled staffer, or one who supports Obama, passing on the list.  But the press release uses very strong words about the Obama campaign's involvement:
The Obama campaign in Indiana, on September 27, unlawfully obtained and made unauthorized use of a proprietary media list belonging to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) ? the trade association for the firearms industry.  Sen. Obama used this list to e-mail a press release concerning National Hunting and Fishing Day.
"Unlawfully obtained" is a pretty strong description.  It suggests a deliberate effort by the campaign to obtain the mailing list, and given that the value of the list was destroyed (by including it in mailing, presumably inadvertantly) the damages claim might actually stick.  But hat presumes the NSSF can prove that the Obama campaign deliberately made efforts to obtain the list in an underhanded fashion.  If they can't prove that, I think the NSSF legal team may be stuck going after whoever leaked the list for contract violations.

If true, these allegations really put the anti-gun complaints about NRA spies in perspective, don't they?

This entry was published Thu Oct 09 15:06:50 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2008-10-09 15:06:50.0. [Tweet]

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