Saturday, June 18, 2005

Introducing 'The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company'

We have a number of co-objectors and more will follow. Many of you pondering whether to join the objection list by the July 15 deadline understandably feel a bit swamped by all the technical details about the decades-long infringements of your works and what might be the proper, proportionate, and above all most effective response.

To help you sort things out, your humble blogger introduces a multi-part series entitled “The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company.” The Canada-based Thomson Corporation is one of the principal defendants trying to buy off the entire freelance writing community with a piddling settlement of $10-to-$18-million, accompanied by a release of all future claims and no royalty system to ensure that independent creators will have a dignified share of the large and inevitably growing commerce of cyberspace.

“The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company,” in my opinion, tells a simple, straightforward, back-to-front story. Before starting it, I advise you to review two May 22 posts:

* “Thomson Gale Quietly Rolls Out New Service” ( points you to an April 4 report by Information Today's NewsBreaks about the recent stealth start-up of a new premium content service. This subscription service, called Goliath, goes for a cool $349.95 a month. To give you a little perspective (and if I’ve moved all the decimal points around correctly), 1,000 subscribers to just the Great Goliath, for five years, would amount to almost $21 million in gross revenues -- in other words, well over the total ceiling of this one-time settlement fund will be wiped out in a short period by a single product of a single defendant.

* “Thomson/Gale to Infringed Writers: Drop Dead” ( points you to an online "Important Notice to Freelancers" by the company’s senior vice president for copyright and licensing. In the notice, this executive, Christine M. Gordon, basically blows all of us off.

Shortly I’ll post “The Crimes of Thomson/Gale/Information Access Company (Part 1).” This will take us to a time before time -- all the way back to 1994. I was a member of the National Writers Union’s Bay Area Local and the volunteer organizer of a campaign called “Operation Magazine Index.” Bestselling author Nicholson Baker, a charter participant in that campaign, wrote a New York Times op-ed article, “Infohighwaymen” ( And Christine Gordon worked out of the Foster City, California, office of Thomson/Gale’s predecessor, Information Access Company.

Read and enjoy this series. Then consider joining me in doing something about it.

Irv Muchnick


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