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Duncan Smith

A lawyer for Encana Corp. is demanding the deletion of an Internet posting containing audio of an Encana executive swearing.

On Feb. 14, during a quarterly results conference call, microphones caught someone – Encana has not said who – muttering an angry expletive. The audible whisper followed a question from Canaccord Genuity analyst Phil Skolnick, who asked: "But in terms of new investment guidelines which were updated, do you think that prohibits a company like Encana from being acquired?"

The question was taken by chief executive Clayton Woitas, who answered: "The answer would be no." Someone then muttered an obscenity, ostensibly at Mr. Skolnick.

A Globe and Mail reporter posted a 19-second audio file of the question and answer to Chirbit, a YouTube-like web site for audio sharing. The Encana clip has now been played more than 16,000 times, as the link was passed through the corporate towers of downtown Calgary and beyond.

Encana apologized after the conference call. The swearing does not appear in a transcript of the call, nor in a company replay of the audio.

The company now wants the clip off the Internet, too. On Thursday, Chirbit founder Ivan Reyes said he has received a takedown request from Encana. Mr. Reyes has declined, citing fair use provisions in copyright law and a site policy directing that such requests be sent to the poster of audio.

Encana, in its request, says:

"Encana is the copyright owner of the Recording. It was expressly stated at the outset of the Conference Call that 'this conference call may not be recorded or rebroadcast without the express consent of Encana Corporation'," the letter states.

"The Recording has been posted without Encana's consent. The unauthorized use of this Recording clearly constitutes copyright infringement. ... Encana views this matter extremely seriously and requests that you respond to the undersigned on or before the close of business on Friday, February 22, 2013, failing which, Encana will have no other recourse but to take all actions as may be available to it to protect its proprietary rights."

Journalists regularly record conference calls to ensure accuracy in reporting.

In a statement sent to The Globe, Encana spokesman Jay Averill said it's reasonable for Encana to want it gone.

"I think any individual or organization that has something embarrassing broadcast over the web without proper permissions would make any attempt to have that content eventually removed as, understandably, we do not wish to have that clip living on in perpetuity on the web," he said.

Follow Nathan VanderKlippe on Twitter: @nvanderklippeOpens in a new window

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