Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Claims Administrator Changes Its Tune, Deadline; Registration Docs Not Needed

We interrupt our investigative series on named plaintiffs Mary Sherman and Paula "Pinocchio" McDonald -- hereinafter iconically known as the Category B Goldust Twins -- to report that the claims administration team has backed off somewhat from its aggressive June 16 mailing to many claimants telling them that their earlier claims submissions were defective.

As usual these people zig and zag more than a World Cup set piece, so I'd best try not to interpret for all of you all of the new information now posted at http://copyrightclassaction.com. (The same full text is at the bottom of this blog post, for your reference.)

But this does seem to be a small but significant victory for the harried freelancers who first had been misled by the writers' organizations into thinking that claims approval would be a snap, and then were thrown into outrage and some understandable panic upon being told that they had to provide this and that piece of paper, and make it snappy!

Specifically, with apologies "for any confusion the June 16 letter [stating lots of things to the contrary] may have caused":

* In most cases copyright registration numbers are sufficient. You don't have to produce the actual copyright certificate or a printout from the Copyright Office website.

* You now have until August 31 -- not July 17 -- to cure various other alleged defects in your claims submissions.

Still left dangling is what the settlement parties meant, in their recent, second-year-law-school-level-shoddy filings in opposition to our appellate brief, by their calculation of "prima facie valid claims."

Also, what the craven "associational plaintiff" AG, ASJA, and NWU are up to. Jeepers, even with the extension to August 31, many freelancers are certain to miss the new deadline because they're away for the summer or for other reasons. These organizations should be shouting updates from rooftops, instead of hiding out and pretending this mess -- by which I mean not just the current confusion but also the whole messy UnSettlement -- never happened.

Stay with us as our staff of Kremlinologists studies the new settlement website info (which I can already tell you is still not duplicated at the 1-800-330-0516 administrator's toll-free phone line). And as we continue to press for answers.



On June 16, 2006, the Claims Administrator mailed out letters to class members who submitted claims, asking for further information, or advising that certain claims were ineligible. The letter that you did not include sufficient documentation concerning copyright registration has raised some questions, and in some respects did not accurately describe the registration documentation requirements. This Announcement clarifies those letters with respect to the proof of claim requirements for registered Subject Works, as well as with respect to other issues.

1. If you supplied a registration number on your Claim Form, then the Claims Administrator will attempt to verify your registration on the U.S. Copyright Office web site, and you do not need to do anything else at this time. However, because the U.S. Copyright Office web site is incomplete (not containing pre-1978 registrations), or in case you provided the wrong number, you may be required to provide proof of registration in the manner described in the June 16 letter. If the Claims Administrator needs proof of registration, you will be notified. In short, you do not need to provide any documentation at this time unless and until you are again notified that proof of registration is required.

2. If you failed to provide a registration number, then you will need to do so, and you should proceed to do so now. If after you provide the registration number the Claims Administrator is unable to verify it on the U.S. Copyright Office website, then you will be asked to provide proof of registration in the forms described in the June 16 letter. In short, once you have provided the registration number(s) to the Claims Administrator, you do not need to provide any documentation at this time unless and until you are again notified that proof of registration is required.

3. The December 31 2002 deadline to register Subject Works applies only to Category B claims, not Category A claims. Your Subject Works are eligible for Category A awards if they were registered either before publication or first infringement, or not more than three months (90 days) after first publication. This is the case regardless of whether the registration was before or after December 31, 2002.

4. Works Made For Hire. If the June 16 letter told you that certain of your works are ineligible because you stated they were works made for hire, and if you now believe that they were not works made for hire, then you should, by August 31, 2006, send the Claims Administrator a letter correcting that designation. Please note that this August 31, 2006 deadline extends the deadline set forth on the June 16 letter.

5. If the June 16 letter sent to you requires you to provide further information other than registration documentation, then you must provide it no later than August 31, 2006.

Please visit this site for updates concerning the settlement and the claims process. You may also contact plaintiffs' lead counsel at mboni@kohnswift.com, drice@hosielaw.com or ajd@girardgibbs.com.

Thank you for your cooperation, and we apologize for any confusion the June 16 letter may have caused.


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