Sunday, June 05, 2005

Comment at Official Settlement Site

Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2005 14:21:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Irvin Muchnick"
Subject: Comment on settlement procedures
To: "A.J. De Bartolomeo"
CC: CopyrightSettlement@girardgibbs.com

Dear A.J.:

I am posting this message, as well as your reply, at my blog. I also am submitting this to the "comments" page of the www.copyrightclassaction.com website and expect it to be included in the package forwarded to Judge Daniels. As a member of the class myself, I question the failure of the notice and claims administration website to offer a clear and reliable method for an author to determine whether he or she is a class member, and to what extent.

The "List of Publications" page states: "Please be advised that you should file a claim even if the publication you wrote for is not on the list." This makes no sense. If an author has a claim, an author has a claim; if not, not.

The claim form section of the site advises prospective class members to make a determination "as best you can.” The tools provided are inadequate. There is no claims database, merely a set of suggestions of pointers to various other databases, which in turn include both class-eligible and class-ineligible works. The NewsLibrary link requires separate registration. The Lexis/Nexis link requires separate registration; further, that registration requires submission of credit card information. (Though no actual charges are promised unless a full-text article is ordered, the procedure is both cumbersome and intrusive, without providing sufficient information as to whether the searched works are in fact Subject Works for the purposes of the settlement.) The Thomson Dialog link is simply to a press release for a product launched on April 11 of this year, called Dialog NewsRoom. I question having a link at the settlement website to a document with no utility for the purpose at hand. In addition, I question not only the appropriateness in this forum of an advertisement forDialog NewsRoom, but also the very launch of that product before final approval of the settlement.

In my opinion, the claims administrator has a more pro-active, affirmative, fiduciary obligation to assist class members and would-be class members in conducting investigations, and in making evaluations of class eligibility, than is exhibited here. The alternative is to underscore the same atmosphere of confusion and chaos which has plagued the industry for the last decade or more, and which continues to expose the deep and fatal flaws in the preliminary settlement.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this query.

Irvin Muchnick

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