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NASD Wins Legal Battle Against Publisher

The National Association of Securities Dealers of Washington has won a legal battle against a publisher who uses NASDR data about broker/dealers. A federal court in Florida dismissed a lawsuit brought by the publisher, Edward Siedle, who demanded access to NASDR data, saying NASDR could restrict information that appears on its public disclosure Web site and how that information can be used.

But in a twist, the NASDR is poised to offer more data about regulatory violations by NASD member firms that Siedle uses in his directory, which he started publishing last summer. The 1,600-page, $850 directory is targeted to mutual fund companies, pension funds and other institutions that invest through broker-dealers.

Siedle collected part of the data from the NASDR's Public Disclosure Program (PDP), a Web site that lets investors look into the backgrounds of brokers. But Siedle claims the NASDR disclosure site omits as much as 85% of the disciplinary bad news about brokerages, which makes his book valuable to fiduciaries.

Before the directory was published, NASDR wrote to Siedle saying that use of its public disclosure information for commercial purposes might violate NASDR policy, and that it would pursue "all legal remedies available" should Siedle publish.

Siedle, a former attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission who now conducts due diligence for pension funds, filed an injunction to prevent possible intervention by the NASDR.

"It's insane. I was suing a regulator for failing to make information public," Siedle said. "I had hoped to make the public aware that the risks to doing business with brokerages are far greater than the industry would have you believe."

Although a court has upheld the NASDR's right to control its information, the organization has proposed expanding what it makes available to the public, which is what Siedle had sought. Areas considered for greater disclosure include broker complaints made to the SEC and state regulators, past employer information and arbitration awards. "