Thursday, November 29, 2007


Thursday morning, November 29, 2007

In a long opinion published today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the objectors' appeal of the copyright class action settlement by striking it down. These are the two key sentences:

"The overwhelming majority of class members’ claims concern the infringement of unregistered copyrights. We hold that the District Court lacked jurisdiction over those claims. We therefore vacate the certification and settlement approval, and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion."

The majority opinion and a dissent are viewable at

There is also an opinion by judges on the appellate panel, who explain why they did not recuse themselves even though they are class members themselves, at

The objectors and our attorney, Charles Chalmers, are closely reviewing these documents; we will issue a statement with further interpretation shortly. For now, I can say that it appears that the issue that this three-judge panel focused on -- the jurisdiction of holders of unregistered copyright even for the purpose of settlement -- is not one on which the objectors, the plaintiffs, and the defendants had disagreed.

Irvin Muchnick


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the appeals court decision, unless successfully appealed, squashes any chance that unregistered claimants will ever get a dime.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. The ruling appears to confirm the assertions of the writers' organizations that holders of non-registered copyrights would be lucky to get anything through the legal system. The settlement gave something to a large number of them, and now the possibility of reaching any kind of settlement for them is nil without a successful appeal.

So who benefits? (Besides the publishers.)

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writing was on the wall the second these objectors filed their appeal. I said at the time that if this egotistical-driven appeal was successful, the C-class members would never see a penny. Never in my life did I want to be more wrong. I don't have contempt for the judges. I have immeasureable anger toward these greedy objectors. Congratulations on your victory. You won the battle, but lost the war. The rest of your supposed colleagues are the big losers.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why you pretend not to understand that this a pyrrhic victory that leaves freelancers with only ashes instead of $18 million.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

In response to the last Anonymous comment: At this point this is not a victory, Pyrrhic or otherwise. Where have I used such language? It is a ruling by the Second Circuit that the settlement approved by the district court is vacated. Under the principle "First, do no harm," that is a good thing, because the smoke-and-mirrors $18 million was itself "ashes," as you put it. And worse -- ashes that came with the strings of a license-by-default that would disempower freelance writers forever. What we face right now as a result of the appellate ruling, on grounds we didn't raise, is indeed complicated. In sum, I'm neither claiming victory nor apologizing for what stands currently as half-a-victory.

Irv Muchnick

9:28 AM  
Anonymous california freelancer said...

Thanks for your greed! looks like you wasted our shot at any payment ever.

California freelancer

3:11 PM  

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