Unsettling unnews - online abuse in limbo

BREATH BATED, the Freelance is waiting to see what the US Supreme Court will do to the proposed settlement of claims for unauthorised use and re-sale of freelance writers' works online, ruled illegal in 2001.

Some writers' organisations had negotiated $11.8 million from the New York Times, Reed-Elsevier (owners of the Lexis-Nexis online newspaper archive) and others. Some writers objected on the grounds that this wasn't nearly enough - especially since the owners of nearly 200 newspapers and magazines piled in to be covered, too, by the same sum.

As reported in the January 2008 Freelance, the objectors won - the settlement was thrown out by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in November.

Ironically, the objectors disagree entirely with the grounds on which the court decided, since these appear to prevent authors who have not registered their works with the US Copyright Office claiming anything at all, ever.

Members of the Supreme Court were due to discuss the case on 5 December, but on 8 December the case was re-listed for 12 December. We'll update you online as soon as we hear anything: or see objector Irv Muchnik's blog on what he calls the UnSettlement, at www.freelancerights.blogspot.com

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