Monday, September 19, 2005


A week from tomorrow, September 27, is the date of the “final” fairness hearing before Judge George B. Daniels in New York. In the next couple of days the settlement parties will be filing their “final” papers in advance of that hearing -- a convenient full week after the September 12 deadline for objecting or opting out.

We’ll comment on these documents as soon as they’re available. And, of course, we’ll be reporting on what happens next week in the courtroom, when the judge hears from the parties, objectors’ attorney Charles Chalmers, and perhaps others.

Meanwhile, all freelancers the world over should make sure they file their necessary paperwork with the settlement administrator by a week from Friday, September 30. That means, first of all, your claim forms -- if you didn’t opt out and if you think they're worth the trouble.

Many class members who have only “Category C” claims -- meaning their copyrights were not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in a timely fashion -- tell me that they’ve come to the conclusion that this exercise is not worth the trouble. Writer Marshall Whitfield puts it well: “I believe in ‘half a loaf,’ but I'm insulted by the idea of accepting crumbs, which is what I believe I'd get for my (unregistered) articles, in exchange for endless hours of filling in the claim forms.”

For those of us filing claims, co-objector Chris Goodrich is generously sharing an Excel spreadsheet template that he prepared after consulting with staffers at the Authors Guild, of which he’s a member. (It’s a mystery why the Authors Guild and the other associational plaintiffs and the settlement administrator didn’t publish such a resource themselves, instead of just suggesting the use of an Excel spreadsheet. But, then, as we've said many times, as class reps the associations have been as funny as windows in submarines.)

The Goodrich spreadsheet template is a good tool for those of us with many claims, but I advise you to use it even if you have just a few. You can download it at this link:

(You don't have to submit the spreadsheet online -- you can print out a hard copy and submit it by mail with a cover note.)

Now ... Even if you opted out, or even if, like Marshall Whitfield, you didn’t opt out but you’re not filing claims, it’s important to submit denial-of-future-rights forms ordering the defendants to take your works down from the database. This is because the settlement includes an absurdly one-sided future “License by Default” provision, which applies to all Subject Works regardless of their claim status -- indeed, regardless of whether the authors of those works even know that their works were ever infringed in the first place or that a settlement of this dispute was ever proposed. The License by Default is the No. 1 of our many objections to the settlement, but we’re still reminding writers to send in takedown forms to protect their rights, in the unhappy event that we don’t prevail. See “Use Our ‘Takedown Forms’ to Block Future Use of Your Works,” We also now have a downloadable Word file of these forms at:

Note that there are two forms. “DENIAL OF RIGHTS” should be used if you opted out, or are choosing not to file claims even though you did not opt out. “DENIAL OF CERTAIN FUTURE RIGHTS” should be used if you are filing claims.


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