Thursday, May 05, 2005

Launching FREELANCERIGHTS.blogspot.com

On April 27, 2005, I filed a motion to vacate the preliminary settlement in a landmark lawsuit over unauthorized reuse of freelance authors' previously published newspaper and magazine articles. The full annnouncement and the court documents are at http://freelancerights.muchnick.net.

In order to handle the overwhelming response to this initiative, and to give it an indispensable element of interactivity, we’re now starting the FREELANCE RIGHTS blog. This is intended to be a “meeting place” for discussing the settlement. I’ll step in to answer questions as best I can.

It is important to note that I do not oppose the settlement. Rather, I have serious questions as to whether the preliminary settlement – recently announced by the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors – is fair. Fair in total, and fair to each of the three groups categorized as having been infringed over the past decade or more. At this point we need substantially more information in order to answer those questions, and that is the relief we are asking from the court. In the meantime, it is a disgrace that infringement has continued unabated. Brand-new products have even sprung up while this case has dragged on – all earning money for the defendants and harming the plaintiffs.

I look forward to building this important conversation and community.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>it is a disgrace that infringement has continued unabated<< I agree with this! One reason is that there has been no practical solution to abate piracy, except of course, to simply stop publishing. Creative Commons offers a partial solution. There is also the new iCopyright Quick Tag that writers and bloggers can affix to their works. I just put this on my web site and it works like a charm.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

Sure, Creative Commons is a good model. And iCopyright Quick Tag, which I don’t know much about, is probably a cool technology. But let’s not allow this discussion to get bogged down talking about new toys. The database industry defendants and participating publishers in this case have pirated the works of their freelance contributors -- period. When Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (two of the justices in the 7-2 Supreme Court majority in Tasini v. New York Times) agree on something, it’s probably true. Eventually what this industry needs is the “compulsory license” used in the music industry. In other words, you should be allowed to reuse a copyrighted work without having to seek out the rights holder every time. Along with that should be a system to track or monitor or canvass usage, and distribute to creators a fair share of the revenues generated.

7:21 PM  
Blogger howboy said...

It is indeed time that this matter was resolved, and resolved fairly.

In Canada, authors have been waiting since 1996 for resolution of the similar class action suit launched by journalist Heather Robertson against the national newspaper the Globe and Mail and the Thomson information group that then owned it.

The case is inching, snail-like, through the courts. The following links summarize the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal and provide some history of the suit.

http://www.gowlings.com/resources/newsletterPDFs/AdBytesJan2005.en.pdf

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb011015-1.htm

http://www.blakes.com/english/publications/it/ITNov04/OntarioCourt.asp

9:16 PM  

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