On January 22, Judge George B. Daniels in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a “Preliminary Approval of the Revised Class Action Settlement” in the legal case called "In Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation."
This settlement grew out of class action lawsuits initiated in 2001 by the National Writers Union and two other writers’ organizations to compensate freelance writers for electronic uses of their work in print periodicals prior to the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Tasini v. New York Times.
The lead plaintiff in that case, Jonathan Tasini, was President of the NWU when the suit originated in 1995. The NWU brought this lawsuit because we believed that freelance writers, who were only paid for print publication, should be paid for electronic uses of their work. With the legal and financial backing of the United Auto Workers union (UAW), we were able to continue the fight to the Supreme Court, who ruled in our favor and established that work published in electronic media constitutes a separate use of the work, which publishers must pay for.
Because only the plaintiffs to the original Tasini lawsuit were compensated after that decision, follow-up class action laws suits were initiated to pay other freelance writers. After a long and contentious legal process, a revised settlement was negotiated and has received preliminary approval from the court. A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for June 10.
Formal notice of the proposed settlement will be posted on our website for our members shortly. This will give Class members the opportunity to opt out of the settlement or to present objections to the settlement. The deadline for filing a request to opt out of the settlement or for filing objections is May 9, 2014.
The National Writers Union is pleased that under the proposed settlement the publishers that used our work without our permission or payment have agreed to pay more than what was stipulated in the first proposed settlement. We are also pleased that each author of an article or work that did not have a registered copyright will receive more compensation than originally proposed. Mostly, we are pleased that once the settlement is finally accepted by the court, money will eventually be in writers’ pockets where it rightfully belongs. We will provide detailed advice to our members about the proposed settlement.
For more information contact the National Writers Union: 212-254-0279