Thursday, September 08, 2005

'This Is Worse Than Anyone Is Imagining'

Independent objector Anita Bartholomew comments:

The potential loss to writers (and profit to databases and publishers) over the years, as a result of this settlement, is worse than anyone is imagining. The release in this settlement absolves all of them of all past, present and future claims, whether related to this lawsuit or not, regarding any article an author doesn't specifically demand to have removed.

So, if the databases/publishers wanted to use stories they got by default future rights forfeiture, as the bases for TV movies, or for published book anthologies, they could with impunity. If they wanted to license articles about heart disease to advertisers of bogus health products, they could. If they wanted to supply the text for travel advertising from previously published travel destination articles, they could. It's free to them, but they can profit from it. Only the writers get nothing. Because the writer has no legal recourse whatsoever if the Defendants and participating publishers overstep the electronic rights parameters. And this whole case came about because databases and publishers overstepped what they legally had the right to do, so why wouldn't they now overstep further?

Your work doesn't have to have been in one of the Defendants' databases to be affected. It can have been used without authorization by any of the eventual Supplemental Participating Publishers. And we don't even have the final list yet of who they will be.

Theoretically, anyone who ever infringed anything by unauthorized display in any publicly accessible non-image-base electronic databases, is released from past infringement and allowed future use so long as they sign on to the settlement as a Supplementary Participating Publisher. It will actually be potentially wildly profitable for someone who has ever infringed to pay a small fee, and get free and clear unfettered rights to your work, forever.

Now if I, a non-lawyer, can read the plain English of paragraphs 1, 5 and 13 of the Settlement Agreement, and figure this out, don't you think that those who participated in writing the language know how much the databases/publishers are getting and how much writers stand to lose?


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