Sunday, August 14, 2005

NY Times Public Editor on Freelancers

Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2005 09:30:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: Irvin Muchnick
Subject: Freelancers
To: Byron Calame

Dear Mr. Calame:

Your piece about the ethical and editorial complexities of contracting with freelance writers was very interesting. But I found your reference to the consequences of the Supreme Court’s 2001 Tasini decision cryptic and incomplete ("Outside Contributors: In The Times, but Not of The Times," August 14).

There’s no need to regurgitate my whole speech, as I know corporate restrictions would prevent you from faithfully transcribing and reporting it. Instead, let me point you to my website,, and to my blog,, and invite you to cover the current fight surrounding objections to the $10-to-$18-million copyright class action settlement on behalf of freelancer writers that is up for court approval.

If you do so with integrity, you’ll see that the Supreme Court did not “require broadening the standard contracts to include electronic use.” Rather, a 7-2 majority, including both Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said that The Times and other publishers were in violation of copyright law, and added: “The Authors and Publishers may enter into an agreement allowing continued electronic reproduction of the Authors’ works; they, and if necessary the courts and
Congress, may draw on numerous models for distributing copyrighted works and remunerating authors for their distribution.”

In sum, this was a strong suggestion from the Court for the establishment of a fair and reasonable royalty system, which freelancers have long advocated and publishers have

Irv Muchnick


From: "Public/NYT/NYTIMES" <>
To: Irvin Muchnick
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2005 12:32:13 -0400

Thank you for your comments. Everything sent to this mailbox is read by either me or my associate, Joseph Plambeck. If a further reply is appropriate, you will be hearing from us shortly.

Don't forget, when referring to a specific article please include its date, section and headline.
If you do not wish your message to be published or relayed to other editors and reporters, be sure to let us know.

-- Byron Calame
Public Editor

The Public Editor's web page is available at the following link:

Byron Calame's web journal can be accessed at:


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