Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New York Times Archive to Be Free ... To Make More Money for The New York Times

For all of you who keep asking, we're still awaiting the ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to our appeal of the 2005 district court approval of the copyright class-action settlement. That decision should be handed down any time now, but we have no special information.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has announced that, beginning tomorrow (September 19), it will eliminate its subscription program for online access to archived articles, known as TimesSelect. The general manager of NYTimes.com, Vivian L. Schiller, is quoted as saying that the two-year-old fee-based TimesSelect had drawn 227,000 paying subscribers and generated about $10 million a year in revenues, but "our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising."

Like the other entities comprising the copyright class action Defense Group, The Times continues to knock off the works of many thousands of freelancers. I personally wrote two articles for The New York Times Magazine -- with copyrights registered in my name -- that are marketed on the archive without permission or compensation.

Just to review here, the settlement to which I and others are objecting calls off the entire future of discussion of how to share new-media secondary rights revenue that, by law, belongs to freelancers, for the entire print and online publishing industry (for all practical purposes). The
settlement would give everyone in the world who knows that this is going on shares, of $5 or more, of what's left of a $10-million-to-$18-million settlement fund after attorneys' fees and administration costs are deducted.

What if the fund is overloaded with claims (and we believe there is good evidence, which has been covered up, that this is exactly what happened)? Well, then these whopping payouts get reduced, even to zero, for the category that comprises 99-plus percent of the infringements! Tough toenails.

Oh, and I almost forgot: there's a "license by default" that gives the Defense Group a get-out-of-jail-free card in perpetuity, even for the many authors -- certainly the vast majority -- who never knew about the settlement or chose not to waste time with its Byzantine and one-sided claims procedures.


Anonymous Francis Hamit said...

This is called "Vicarious Liability" for copyright infringement or the Dancehall Theory. i.e., the owner of a dancehall profits if the band plays unlicensed music and is liable as a co-infringer for any profits made.

1:40 PM  

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