Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thomson Corporation's Piracy Record: Not Fit to Print in The Toronto Star, Either

BY EMAIL <lettertoed@thestar.ca>
AND FAX -- 416-869-4322

As the Thomson Corporation applies the finishing touches to its acquisition of Reuters, the record should show that, to the freelance author community, Thomson is one of the world's foremost copyright criminals. Thomson's Gale Group family of article databases, formerly known as Information Access Company, built its businesses with full knowledge that it had no right to remarket many of the works originally published by its newspaper and magazine licensors. Blissfully and arrogantly, it continued and expanded these practices even after a 2001 US Supreme Court decision, Tasini v. New York Times, definitively ruled that they were illegal.

Further, documents produced by me for a US District Court in New York establish that, as far back as 1995, Thomson/Gale executives lied to writers about the ability of their technology to track the sales of individual articles from its databases. (One was Morris Goldstein, then the division's CEO; another was Christine M. Gordon, who at last word was still senior vice president for copyright and licencing.)

I lead a slate of objectors to a 2005 copyright class action settlement, in which Thomson is one of the principal defendants, and which was negotiated by three American writers' organisations. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on our appeal. Wisely, Canadian author groups steered clear of that terrible deal and counseled their members to opt out.

Irvin Muchnick


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