On May 6, 2009 the Gartner Ombudsman blog had the following post Gartner External Use Policy: We Mean It where they called out a vendor by name for copyright violation. The violation was clear: distributing a research note without purchasing reprint rights. Frankly, this sort of blog post is only a slap on the wrist because what is the price that the vendor is going to pay? Lost sales? SageCircle doubts that an enterprise IT manager will not buy the vendor’s products simply because the sales representatives are handing out a research note.
Of course, Gartner would not do something improper like downgrade the vendor in published research like moving the dot on a Magic Quadrant down and to the left. But there could be other steps taken. Because we were curious about whether Gartner is willing to take further steps we left this comment on the Gartner Ombudsman post: “Besides this post, what other steps is Gartner taking to punish this vendor? Legal? Not permitting the vendor to brief Gartner analysts? Canceling the Gartner contract so the company can no longer talk with analysts via inquiry?” It will be interesting to see if Gartner is willing to take other steps to enforce its copyrights.
Even if this particular vendor does not pay a further price for this violation, vendors must respect all analyst firms’ copyrighted material no matter if the firm is a boutique, a small firm, or large firm. This even includes internal distribution of complete research notes to employees who do not have the contractual right to see it.
While some firms may permit vendors to distribute their copyrighted material, it is their decision to do so for some purpose like raising the firm’s visibility (thus the research distribution provides a marketing value). Every firm has some unique intellectual property that they hold dear and would like to protect. Vendors should make sure that their sales teams and other departments are respecting analyst firms’ copyrights.
- AR policies should clearly state the process for obtaining permission to use quotes and reprints
- Marketing and sales teams should be reminded of copyright restrictions as part of their AR training
- Vendors should maintain a repository for approved reprints and research that may be distributed.
Bottom Line: IT vendors often get into litigation around software piracy, patent or trademark infringement, or other theft of their intellectual property. For analyst firms the research is one of their products and deserves the same respect.
Question: AR – Has Gartner ever suggested stronger punishments for copyright violations?