There’s a great quote, usually attributed to Mark Twain,1 about dealing with the press that goes something like this: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.
Bank of America must never have heard that quote, or else heard it and just paid it no mind. Someone working on the bank’s behalf apparently asked Twitter to delete some tweets by Business Insider writer Jim Edwards on copyright grounds because they contained screen grabs showing snippets of research from analysts at the firm. (Business Insider, presumably, doesn’t buy much ink at all, but you get the drift.)
Jim Edwards, Business Insider
This is quite an alarming story for those of us who buy pixels by the barrel because — true confession time — many of us in the financial press have done this exact same thing for years and no one seemed to ever complain. Sometimes it’s to illustrate important research being done, but perhaps more often it’s just for what the kids call the “lols.”
Just this Monday I tweeted a screen grab of a Goldman Sachs stock-market note that contained multiple references to “Star Wars” and suggested that strategist David Kostin was one of countless middle-aged dudes having a hard time keeping his inner nerd on the inside when it comes to that movie. (In doing so, I also clearly revealed that I’m a middle-aged dude also having a hard time keeping his inner nerd on the inside.)
Another time I tweeted a Bank of America graph of interest rates going back 5,000 years and suggested there was a good opportunity for a carry trade for anyone with a time machine. I stand by that analysis.
Amount of Bank Research on Twitter
The point is, whether the motivation is bad jokes or an actual desire to convey important market information, there are tweets with screen grabs from BofA research here and there and everywhere all over Twitter, including some posted just after Edwards’ were purged. Just about every other bank’s research finds its way to Twitter, too. The general thinking among the press has been that this type of thing is fine under the “fair use” doctrine that allows short snippets of copyrighted material to be reproduced for purposes like news reporting and criticism.