[jja-announce] Act by 9/30, to claim $s for infringements of yr electronic copyrights

Jazzmandel at aol.com Jazzmandel at aol.com
Wed Sep 21 17:55:03 EDT 2005

Dear JJA members -- 

As many of us have written for Down Beat, and some of us have written for 
other magazines that supplied our materials without our permission to online 
databases that sold our works without recompense to us, I'm forwarding this note 
from the National Writers Union to everyone. To take advantage of the 
settlement or remedy of the NWU's successful case taken to the Supreme Court, YOU MUST 
ACT BY SEPT. 30. You may register for recompense (probably at the $5 per 
article rate, unless you registered your copyright of articles with the Library of 
Congress) or you may do nothing, which cedes yr electronic rights to the 
databases. The remedy leaves a lot to be desired, as you can read on Irv Muchnik's 
blog http://freelancerights.blogspot.com/ and to apply for the funds you may 
be due is a painful, time consuming process. But all this is detailed below.

Another way to foil electronic databases that charge fees to readers of yr 
work is to post your work for free (you can do this at Jazzhouse.org, for one 
site) or for a lower fee than the databases charge on your own website. 

Please read on -- the NWU has done as best it could, and the info below ought 
to be fairly clear -- 

best, Howard

If you've freelanced for Down Beat, you may know that

Down Beat articles were appearing on Highbeam.com

without your permission. 

As many of you know, pursuant to the Supreme Court's

NY Times vs. Tasini decision, unless electronic rights

are specifically ceded in a written contract,

freelancer's retain their electronic rights and

publishers must negotiate electronic uses (such as

database licensing) separately.

Like literally thousands of other magazines, Down Beat

licensed freelancer's work without securing electronic

rights from the authors. Because this is a clear case

of copyright infringement, you may be entitled to

compensation through a Class Action Settlement. 


In August 2000, the National Writers Union (NWU),

American Society for Journalists and Authors (ASJA)

and the Authors Guild, along with 21 freelance writers

brought forth a class action copyright infringement

lawsuit against several commercial electronic

databases and print publishers. They claimed that many

publishers and database companies (such as Reed

Elsevier's LEXIS/NEXIS and Dow Jones's Factiva) had

infringed the copyrights of thousands of freelance

contributors to newspapers, magazines, and other print

publications. As it turns out, literally, hundreds of

magazines and newspapers were licensing freelance

works to commercial databases without receiving

permission and thus were infringing on freelancers'

copyrights. Down Beat was one of them. 

The Settlement: 

The class action suit, subject to a fairness hearing

on September 27, 2005, will most likely be settled.

The settlement calls for a minimum of $10 million and

a maximum of $18 million to be paid to freelance

writers whose copyrights were infringed by the


While many writers have expressed concerns about the

settlement - concerns I won't go into here - it does

provide freelancers the ability to receive some

financial compensation from publishers and database

companies who exploited their work without securing

electronic rights from the writers and without

providing any compensation to the writers. 

The details of the class action settlement can be

found here: 


The staggering list of publications participating in

the class action settlement can be found here: 


You will see that Down Beat is listed here: 


and here:


If you have a claim - and if you've freelanced for

Down Beat or one of thousands of other publications in

the past several years you probably do - then you need

to fill out and submit the claim form no later than

September 30, 2005. 

If you do not fill out the claim, not only will you

not receive any money out of the settlement, but also

due to a quirky provision in the settlement, you will

actually give the publishers and databases a

non-exclusive license by default. 

The amount of money you will receive per article

ranges from $5 - $1,500, depending on how much you

sold the article for and whether or not you registered

your work with the US Copyright Office.

Your Claim Options: 

If you have a claim, you're options at the moment are:

1) Fill out the claim form, give the defendants

non-exclusive rights to use your work electronically

and receive some compensation. 

2) Fill out the claim form, deny the defendants

non-exclusive rights to use your work electronically

and receive 35% less compensation than if you give

them non-exclusive use (this takedown option is

particularly important if you see a future market for

your work being compromised by the defendants' use of

your work). 

3) Do nothing. This will give the defendants a

non-exclusive license by default. 

The date to opt-out of the settlement has passed. 

If you have questions about this settlement, let me

know. I'll try to answer them as best I can. The

settlement is very confusing and who knows if it will

survive the fairness hearing or any appeals from

objectors (one of whom is a contract advisor for the


The settlement was a hot topic at the National Writers

Union's Delegate Assembly in Baltimore last weekend,

and, as co-chair of the NWU's Journalism Division,

I've been fielding some questions about the


More information about the settlement can be found



The views of writer Irv Muchnick who is an objector to

the settlement can found here: 


More information about the National Writers Union,

which provides grievance and contract advice to its

members for no charge, can be found here: 



Paul MacArthur


NWU Journalism Division 

nwujwriter at yahoo.com

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