Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company (Part 3 and Final)

(‘Introducing the Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information AccessCompany’

(‘The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company’
[Part 1]

(‘The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company’
[Part 2]

At the start of this objection project -- following three years on the staff of the National Writers Union, three and a half years as a litigation consultant, and five years back in the lucrative field of freelance writing (where I still ply my trade today) -- I returned to my old avocation of browsing online databases to isolate infringements. The full text of my June 1988 Washington Monthly article (whose copyright I’d registered in 1999) had long been removed from Thomson/Gale’s InfoTrac product at my public library. I’d assumed that it had been expunged altogether. Silly me.

In fact, this work was newly available via HighBeam and FindArticles. Moreover, as I didn’t discover until I bebopped over to the campus library at the University of California, this work had continued to be oldly available, all through the years, via LexisNexis. According to my LexisNexis printout, my 1988 Washington Monthly article was supplied via a product called ASAP. The notice said: “Copyright 1988 Information Access Company, a Thomson Corporation Company” and“Copyright 1988 Washington Monthly Company.” At the very bottom of the printout was this verbiage: “LOAD-DATE: August 11, 1995."

August eleven nineteen ninety-five? Seven years after publication? Geez, my first correspondence with Robert Howells, president of IAC, had been on September 9, 1994. My last round of correspondence with the company had begun on August 17, 1995. It had concluded with an exchange of faxes with Howell’s successor, Morris Goldstein, on August 28, 1995.

Folks, the word “infringement” has a specific meaning. There should not be a shadow of a doubt in anyone’s mind that Thomson is an explicit, blatant, systematic, willful infringer. The word “crime” is, simultaneously, stronger and vaguer. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that Thomson has behaved like a corporate criminal. And that this poor excuse for a preliminary settlement simply aids and abets its criminality.

Irv Muchnick


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11:25 AM  

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