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US freelances get to try again - 15 years on

THE US Supreme Court ruled on 2 March that a class-action settlement to pay US freelances for unauthorised use of their work by the New York Times and others can include those who have not registered their works with the US Register of Copyrights. So the case goes back to the US Second Circuit appeal court in New York to decide whether the settlement, offering a net $11 million to writers, is in fact fair.

The Supreme Court, in overturning an earlier Second Circuit ruling, thus accepts about the only point on which the parties to the proposed settlement and the objectors, headed by wrestling writer Irv Muchnik, are agreed. The objectors say the payout is far too small.

The case started back in 1995 when Jonathan Tasini, then President of the US freelances' union the National Writers Union, and others sued the Times for selling work online without a licence. In June 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that their copyright had in fact been breached - see the link below for a summary of this 15-year battle.

Last modified: 4 Mar 2010 - © 2009 contributors
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