Wednesday, March 11, 2009

UnSettlement Insiders Are Threatened by a Royalty System -- But the Class Isn't

As the Supreme Court's consideration proceeds, one of the most revealing phenomena is the screechy resistance to a royalty system from the UnSettlement/sellout defenders.

Some of this can be explained prosaically, as lack of imagination. Some people, including some truly downtrodden, if chronically narrow-visioned, freelance writers, just don't understand the fuss. The publishing industry has shoved all-rights contracts down most of our throats. And publishers propose to clean up their pre-Tasini paperwork problem by doling out a few nickels and dimes. What do you want -- blood?

Not blood, folks, just a reasonable system that doesn't turn Section 201(c) of the Copyright Act, as well as the 2001 Supreme Court decision affirming it, on its head.

No one can seriously argue, from a policy perspective, that the purpose of the Tasini decision was clerical. The legislative history behind the most recent Congressional revision of the Copyright Act, in 1976, showed an awareness of the impact of new technologies (though few, of course, realized the full implications of CD-ROMs and the Internet per se). The purpose of the "doctrine of divisibility" of rights was to empower independent creators, so that all information and culture wouldn't be delivered and controlled solely by corporate entities. This was and is deemed an overall good thing for our society.

So if your argument is that you want your $12.97 in claims (or, in the case of some class action system-gamers, a good bit more) and you want it now, then go ahead and make it.

Just don't try to bully the rest of us into believing that there aren't larger principles at stake.


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