There has been a great deal of misinformation and semi-informed
speculation written about the decision by the Appeals Court on the
class action objection. Even The New York Times got it wrong.
Here's what you need to know: before I filed an objection, in 2005, I
exchanged emails with Michael Boni (the attorney for the
plaintiffs/writers), and others involved in the negotiations, about
EXACTLY this scenario (because the elephant in the room was always the
lack of legal standing of unregistered applicants).
If the UNregistered claims were thrown out, I asked Michael Boni,
would those writers who never registered be permitted to stay in the
class and file claims as B (untimely but registered) class if they
later registered, before the case was resolved? Boni's answer, at the
time, was an unequivocal, yes. All the C claimants would have to do
to remain in the lawsuit would be to register.
I asked the same question of Charles Chalmers, the attorney for the
objectors. His opinion was that, probably, the Class C could stay in
by registering. He couldn't give a definite answer as there were
variables. Not as strong an opinion as Boni's, but still, not the doom
and gloom everyone is expressing.
This lawsuit can't go away unless the judge says so. The judge can't
say so because there are thousands of valid registered articles
involved in this lawsuit. Thousands. Of. Registered. Articles. And
the Supreme Court's Tasini ruling gives the registered writers (A & B)
who did not sign away rights a slam-dunk if this case goes to trial.
That's always been true.
That doesn't mean it won't take years more to get any money. It will.
And the defendants will use every trick in the book to wear down the
writers. That's what they're paid to do. They will try to exclude
articles registered later than the original cut-off. In the end
though, the defendants will have to settle with you. They WANT to
settle with you, regardless of what they claim in the interim because
that's the whole point. They don't want to risk going through a trial
against all of you and your valid (registered, timely or not).
copyright infringement claims.
Writers must act in their own interests to share in the eventual
settlement money, and get a better (NO default future rights
forfeiture) deal than was on the table when the defendants had the
advantage (because of the lack of UNregistereds' legal standing).
Register all those articles you claimed as C (unregistered) now. Any
12-month-period's worth can be registered on a single form for a
Permission is granted to forward this to anyone or any writers' forum
or bulletin board, as long as the message, above, is in no way
changed, truncated or otherwise edited.