Saturday, July 29, 2006

Choose ‘No. 1 Outrage of the UnSettlement,’ Win Fabulous Prizes!

Freelance Rights Blog LLP now invites readers to vote on the worst outrage of the UnSettlement. Email your ballot to The results will be forwarded to the associational plaintiffs, the named plaintiffs, and their lawyers.

As an added incentive, those of you who vote for the winning outrage will receive a free .pdf file of the License by Default language from the settlement agreement. Runners-up will receive cash payments equal to the amount of Category C claim awards if A and B claims exceed $11.8 million.

Employees of Freelance Rights Blog LLP and their families are not eligible.

Because there are so many outrages to choose from, our crack staff has gotten you started with a chronological rundown of a few of our own favorites.

MAY 2005

  • The writers’ organizations set up an interactive Q & A page to address class members’ concerns. It goes kerplooey within weeks.

JUNE 2005

  • ASJA is revealed to have a deal with defendant LexisNexis for a special rate for its members.

JULY 2005

  • “UnSettlement 2.0” amendment grandfathers in two new infringers, Amazon and HighBeam -- for no additional money in the settlement fund. Plaintiffs’ counsel blow the deadline they’d given the court for submission of the amended settlement agreement.


  • NWU posts garbled message, riddled with errors, from current and former presidents. The message is soon withdrawn.
  • Plaintiffs’ lawyer Gary “Enron” Fergus lies to the court about the posting of supplemental notice on the writers’ organizations’ websites.
  • Unannounced, the Authors Guild’s general counsel, Kay Murray, quits for a job with the defense group’s Tribune Company.


  • In final approval papers filed without any time for a thorough review, lawyers say there were zero complaints about the settlement by anyone other than those few represented by a “professional objector.” Their claims analysis stops at 2002, omitting subsequent infringements and interest.
  • A named plaintiff lies in a pathetic declaration that earns her the perennial sobriquet Paula “Pinocchio” McDonald.
  • As the approval hearing and claims deadline approach, the Authors Guild conducts members-only training on how to file claims, and admits that books as well as articles are vulnerable. For the first time one of the associational plaintiffs, ASJA, acknowledges the existence of the License by Default and, in its own members-only forum and in collusion with class counsel, dispenses secret advice on how to get around it.
  • Named plaintiff Tom Dunkel complains about the criticism on this blog. “I’m aware” of the settlement’s unspecified shortcomings, he whines, but “for reasons I’ll not go into here, I’d prefer to see the agreement approved.”

JUNE 2006

  • Many claimants receive defect notices for registered claims, despite public assurances by ASJA that accompanying documentation was not necessary. The claims administrator later reverses itself.
  • The settlement parties’ appellate briefs file illegal outside-the-record information about claims in an attempt to discredit the objectors’ arguments about the danger of the C Reduction. An investigation by the objectors reveals that this information is false and misleading.

JULY 2006

  • The settlement lawyers, arguing that the mistakes in their briefs were trivial and blaming them on the claims administrator, seek to file “corrected” briefs.
  • Another objectors’ investigation sheds light on the Mystery of the 11 Incredible Shrinking Category C Claimant Declarants, who last year signed statements supporting the settlement, apparently without even having been informed that the vast bulk of their claims, represented as totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, may be worthless.


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