Marx 1, Globe 0: replay soon
IN THE wonderfully-named Marx versus Globe lawsuit in Boston, Massachusetts, Marx is ahead on points. In June last year freelance book critic Bill Marx and colleagues filed a class action against the owner of the Boston Globe - the New York Times company - alleging "unfair and deceptive trade practices" in its attempt to get contributors to sign over all rights in their work, past and future. The action is supported by the National Writers Union, American Society of Media Photographers and Graphic Artists Guild.
On 11 January the State Superior Court threw out the publisher's attempt to dismiss the case. Judge Ralph D Gants noted that:
depending on the circumstances, the modification of a contract may be in bad faith when it is procured through an ultimatum in which a company threatens an independent contractor, even an independent contractor who is terminable at-will, with termination unless that independent contractor agrees to waive any claim to a benefit the independent contractor has earned or is otherwise entitled to receive through its past service on behalf of that company.
In short: retroactive rights-grabs are A Bad Thing.