Friday, July 29, 2005

OBJECTION DEADLINE EXTENDED

As expected, Judge George B. Daniels yesterday gave preliminary approval to the new-and-improved UnSettlement 2.0. As a result, there’s a new final approval schedule along with an extension for class members to object or opt out.

The events leading up to and during the hearing once again dramatize why freelance writers should, indeed, use this opportunity to object. For UnSettlement 2.0 is just as arrogant and full of baloney as UnSettlement 1.0. More about this in the next post.

In addition to Charles Chalmers, the attorney for us objectors, another objecting writer appeared on his own behalf. I’m relying on second-hand reports and fear that I’ll misspell his name, so I’ll supply that later. I know that he writes for trade magazines and says he has been victimized by dozens of infringements by the defendants.

This independent objector also said in court that he’s one of the tens of thousands of writers who belong to none of the associational plaintiffs, which of course had no business negotiating damages on behalf of their own members or anyone else. In addition, he offered research suggesting that the article database businesses of just one defendant, Thomson Gale, for just its 60,000 public library clients in 60 countries, gross an annual $1.2 billion. This writer called the proposed settlement “an end-run around the Tasini decision” and tantamount to the abolition of freelancers’ copyrights.

But Judge Daniels said no -- or, rather, another preliminary “yes.” Here we go again. The UnSettlement is like a bad Broadway play that got panned in previews. The producers are determined to juggle the cast, doctor the script, and hope they make it past opening night.

In legal terms, this means that a “supplemental notice” has been prepared. It will be posted on the ever-trusty http://www.copyrightclassaction.com website -- which parcels out information to its presumed clients in its own sweet time and for the convenience of the lawyers eager to wrap this up and pocket their $4 million in fees -- and it will be stuffed into a new postal mailing. Once that’s done, all of us will have an additional 30 days in which to object or opt out. (The current note on the website that the objection deadline has passed is characteristically misleading. As is the failure to post publicly, prior to yesterday’s hearing, the text of the new-and-improved UnSettlement 2.0.)

If you didn’t get it together to object by the original July 15 deadline but remain interested -- or if this latest set of outrages sends you over the edge -- you should contact me at info@muchnick.net.

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