Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blog to Miss Lonelyhearts: Thanks. You're Fired

This blog dodge, no less than the conventional publishing racket, is ruthless. So it came to pass that Miss Lonelyhearts, our intrepid advice columnist -- who plucked unanswered queries from the authors organizations' website and gave take-no-prisoners answers to them -- has been given his unconditional release.

The management of FREELANCERIGHTS Blog LLP, widely rumored to be an affiliate-licensee-nominee of the Official Three Stooges Fan Club, made this decision after our fellow advocates started answering their own mail, after all. In a closed-door meeting, Miss Lonelyhearts argued that this only proved that he got results , and pleaded for the opportunity to shift the focus of his column to exploring the mystique of the "closer" in major league baseball, but to no avail. The dismissal was accompanied by an undisclosed "kill fee."

Miss Lonelyhearts tried to wrest control of the secondary rights of his one and only published column (see Thursday's post, But FREELANCERIGHTS Blog, LLP, refused, pointing out that his work clearly had been "for hire" and was the exclusive property of the company.

Readers will recall that in his sole sortie Miss Lonelyhearts grappled with a query from a writer who said he did hundreds of articles for Copley Press, a "participating publisher" of the copyright class action preliminary settlement, whose newspapers were sold four years ago to Hollinger, which is not a signatory to settlement. "What is my situation?" he/she wanted to know.

Here's the answer from our friends at the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors:

"If your freelance articles were included on the defendant databases without your permission, they are included in the Settlement and you are eligible to make claims for them, even if the original publisher is not a participating publisher."

Well said! But if infringements are continuing, then what is the advantage to this writer of settling for $5 to $60 per article, as opposed to registering his copyrights, opting out of the settlement, and -- either alone or in combination with others -- filing a separate action against Copley for all damages on all works for that publisher dating as far back as 1997 (thanks to the "tolling" provision of class actions, which "stops the clock" on statute of limitations)?

Come to think of it, this answer raises as many new questions as it answers! Wait, Miss Lonelyhearts, come back, we didn't mean it, we need you....


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