Not the Whole Story

Hardin Construction Co. is disturbed and disappointed at the lack of prudence and balance in your Legal story, “Contractor Caught Copying in Software Copyright Case,” regarding a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Meridian Project Systems Inc. against Hardin Construction and Computer Methods International Corp. We expected higher standards of journalism from a respected industry publication such as Engineering News-Record.

Your headline blatantly missed the mark in summarizing the story, which focused on rulings in a federal lawsuit. Further, the court did not find Hardin liable for the incidental copying of materials. In reporting on a suit that was ongoing, the headline imprudently disparages Hardin, which over 60 years has built a reputation for integrity and trust.

ENR’s decision to publish a story at such an indeterminate juncture is questionable. In an ongoing complex copyright case, ENR quoted selectively from a partial summary judgment, making no attempt to solicit comments from Hardin. We would certainly have emphasized that the court made rulings in favor of Hardin by rejecting some of Meridian’s claims. Moreover, the story failed to mention that Hardin and CMIC are vigorously asserting a counterclaim for interference with business, attempts at monopolization and seeking a declaration that Hardin did not violate copyright laws.

All parties in a lawsuit have a right to expect media to be scrupulous in preparing stories that are responsible, fair and balanced. That is certainly Hardin’s expectation of ENR. Our company stands to pay a high price for a profound lack of balance and fairness in your reporting. As a result, Hardin is left defending its longstanding reputation.

Editors Note
ENR’s Legal column is a summary of recent court rulings that affect the construction industry. Comment from the participants is not requested because they have made their arguments in court, and the court has spoken. In a 27-page memorandum and order in Meridian Project Systems Inc. v. Hardin Construction Co. LLC and Computer Methods International Corp. (No. Civ. S-04-2728), Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. granted partial summary judgment for Meridian before trial on one of its copyright claims. It said Hardin improperly copied 34 pages of text from Meridian's computer help pages and e-mailed them to CMIC, violating Meridian’s copyright as a matter of law. Hardin may still assert affirmative defenses, which may affect financial liability. Other claims and counterclaims are pending.