FAQ about the preliminary approval of the Electronic Database Copyright Litigation (Tasini v. NYT)


Frequently Asked Questions about Revised Settlement of Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation
(post-Tasini case class action)


What is the settlement about?
A class action lawsuit was initiated in 2001 by the National Writers Union and two other writers’ organizations to compensate writers for uncompensated electronic uses of their work prior to the Supreme Court decision in Tasini v. New York Times. After a long and contentious legal process, a revised settlement was negotiated by all parties and was given preliminary approval by a federal court in New York on January 22, 2014. A hearing on final approval has been scheduled for June 10, 2014, but that date could change.

How is this different from the settlement proposed in 2005?  
Most writers who filed claims will get slightly more money under this revised settlement than under the original proposal, including those writers who had not registered their copyrights.

Who can file for payment?
Only those people who filed a valid claim before September 30, 2005, are eligible to receive payment. No new claims will be accepted for the revised settlement, and no additional works can be added to previously filed claims.

If I didn’t file a claim, will this settlement affect me?
Yes. You can do nothing, opt out, or object. If you do nothing, you will give up some rights if freelance articles you wrote were reproduced in publications that participated in the settlement.

What should I do if I didn't file a claim in 2005?
If you find out that any works you wrote are covered by the settlement, you should probably opt out now. There is no benefit to anyone who didn’t file a claim, but there are potential costs. If you didn't file a claim and you do nothing, you will give up some rights to all your affected works, in perpetuity, but you will get no money. If you opt out, you won't give up any rights. Opting out is simple and free. You don’t have to try to list all your works.

What should I do if I filed a claim in 2005?
If the settlement is approved, the publications that published the work for which you made claims choose to participate in the settlement, and your claim is deemed valid by the claims administrator, and you will eventually get a payment. If you feel it’s a bad deal, you can opt out now.
If you are fairly confident you are never going to do anything to generate any revenue from the works covered by the settlement, you will probably want to stay in and get paid. If you are generating other revenue from these works or think you might, you need to decide whether the compensation you will get from the settlement is enough to be worth the rights you will give up.

What rights do I give up if I stay in the settlement?  
Non-exclusive rights in perpetuity to any and all forms of digital distribution of all affected works, which are infinitely sublicensable.
Are the license and rights granted by the proposed settlement limited to the works for which I made claims?
No. The license covers all your freelance contributions to participating publications, even if you didn't make claims for them and even if you didn't make a claim at all.

What do you recommend I should do?
That’s up to you. We can’t make a decision for you. Only you know your work and what revenue you may expect from it, if any, in the future.

How long before we are paid?
That depends on the court, over which we have no control. It will be at least several more months. But we will alert members and other writers when the settlement has finally been approved and when payment is likely.

Which publications are included in the settlement?
A list of publishers can be found in Exhibit F, but the list contains only the names of corporations and not the names of individual journals or magazines. The final list of which publications choose to participate in the
settlement won't be known until after the settlement is finally approved.
I filled out a claim for the Google Book Settlement in 2010. Are the two settlements related?
No. These are two entirely separate, very different cases.

Can I object to the settlement?
Yes. Anyone who files the proper paperwork will have a chance to speak to the court before the court decides whether to give final approval to the settlement.

What if I still have questions? How do I get more info?
The full Notice of Revised Class Action Settlement is posted at www.copyrightclassaction.com. If you still need help, you may contact us at nwu@nwu.org. It may take us time to answer your question.
 


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