Tuesday, September 06, 2011

'Now That Freelance Settlement Must Be Renegotiated, Where Are Voices of Authors' Organizations?' ... today at Beyond Chron

by Irvin Muchnick

At intervals in these pages, I have been discussing the six-year-long fight by objectors to block a settlement between freelance journalists and the periodical and electronic database industries – a horrible sellout engineered by the Authors Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Writers Union. On a technical detour to the U.S. Supreme Court, the case became known as Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick. Last month, we objectors won: the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the settlement and ordered the case returned to district court, where holders of copyrighted works lacking Copyright Office registration paperwork (an estimated 99 percent of the class) would be represented by new and adequate counsel.

This article in Publishers Weekly told the story of the demise of “Freelance” – and how the Second Circuit ruling likely dooms the related Google Books settlement, as well. My PW guest column (available online only to subscribers at this point) explains where I think we all should go from here, and adds my longstanding advocacy of a congressionally sanctioned royalty system, including default “compulsory licenses” for public access.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did you see that the plaintiffs and defendants filed a petition for a rehearing? I read it and it said if the case was sent back to start over, the C class would be eliminated in the new negotiations. Can they do that?

9:54 AM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

The filings by the settlement parties of motions for rehearing are noted in my Beyond Chron piece, published Tuesday. This will precipitate, at minimum, another delay.

I'm not sure what you're asking after the first sentence of your comment. With the settlement having been rejected by the appellate court in its current form, the defendants theoretically could walk away from the deal rather than renegotiate. However, in so doing they would be abandoning their stated goal of "complete peace" -- i.e., forestalling continued infringement exposure and future litigation.


2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The posse has found out that your address is unlisted but we WILL find you.

You WILL pay for what you have done.

Trivial Inconvenience

11:25 AM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

I suggest that Michael “Mr. Anonymous” Scott, of Palo Alto, California, or Parts Unknown, take his act elsewhere at this point. The comment above is the latest of thousands of harassing messages he has sent me. The entire body surely violates the terms of service of his Internet service provider, and this one arguably crosses the line into a physical threat. The whole file is being turned over to the appropriate police and other authorities.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Anita Bartholomew said...

To the first Anonymous:

The defendants are not willingly going to make their strategy public, but part of their strategy is, apparently, to scare writers in the unregistered class into believing they are in a more precarious situation than history suggests.

It's important to remember that, in the original negotiations, it was the defendants, not the plaintiffs, who insisted that all unregistered articles be part of any settlement.They don't want trickles of lawsuits coming in for years. They want, as Irv reminded us, "complete peace."

Years earlier, before I objected to the settlement, I asked the plaintiffs' attorney Michael Boni whether unregistereds would be barred entirely due to statute of limitations if removed from this class action. It's been a while, but the gist of his answer, as I recall it, was that the defendants know that if they were to drop the C class tomorrow from negotiations, those in that class could register and file yet another class action lawsuit. The statute of limitations would only apply if they'd never been brought into the class in this action.

So, as I understood it, from the attorney whose settlement I later objected to, the defendants are in a more precarious position than they'd like writers to believe, and writers in less of one.

11:40 AM  

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