Friday, August 26, 2005

(Another) Glaring Misstatement By NWU

The NWU has a glaring misstatement of the law in today's Colby-Tasini message:

"Why, you may still ask, should you bother? The answer is simple: this may be the only chance you have to collect compensation for infringed articles you wrote in the past. The three-year statute of limitations has already run out for most of these articles, thereby barring most of you from legal action if you wanted to pursue an individual lawsuit instead of joining the class."

The three-year limitations period runs from each infringement. It does not run from the time you wrote the article.

There is some disagreement among the circuits as to when the three-year period begins to run in cases where there's a continuing infringement. Even this could be extended in the current scenario. In a 2004 decision in Polar Bear Productions, Inc. v. Timex Corp., the Ninth Circuit said: "[S]ection 507(b) permits damages occurring outside of the three-year window, so long as the copyright owner did not discover -- and reasonably could have discovered -- the infringement before the commencement of the three-year limitation period."

The NWU is erroneously telling writers that you can no longer enforce these copyrights, so you may as well just join in and get something (albeit small) here. But as objectors' attorney Charles Chalmers has noted, Category C class members are not "lucky to be getting anything" and should not be treated as such.


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