NWU Comments on two separate but related federal lawsuits on copyright infringement


On Oct. 7, 2009, the National Writers Union issued the following press release:

At a status hearing today in federal court in New York City, the Authors Guild, speaking on behalf of Google and the Association of American Publishers, told U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin that a new agreement to a four-year old copyright infringement case could be worked out in a matter of weeks, that the parties involved should be kept to a minimum, and that notification of the new agreement for authors to opt out should be kept to a minimum.


            “Once again, the Authors Guild has failed to represent the interests of authors,” Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union said. “The Guild maintained that a few weeks is a reasonable amount of time for authors to respond to a new settlement document and then, in private, negotiate language and details that could fundamentally alter authors’ rights. The timetable laid out by the parties, the limits they seek to impose on a wider involvement in the process, and the totally inadequate re-notification process, are all unacceptable. This unwise approach proves what the Department of Justice found, that the Authors Guild does not represent the class of writers.”
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Regarding the Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick case that was argued today before the Supreme Court of the United States, Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union said:
            “On October 29, 2007, two members of a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that writers who had not registered their works with the U.S. Copyright Office are denied any access to federal court for copyright protection and cannot make claims for damages for infringement of their work. The Appeals Court also claimed the U.S. District Court had been wrong to accept Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation and approve the settlement.                                                             
            “This ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which today was presented with a simple legal question: ‘Should writers who have not registered their works with the U.S. Copyright Office be allowed access to the federal court system for copyright protection?’ The only logical answer to this question is a resounding YES!
            “For practical and economic reasons, most writers do not register their works, no matter how much they are encouraged to do so by writers' advocacy organizations. To deny these writers their constitutional right to any copyright protection by federal courts contradicts the specific guarantees enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
            “The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision is a dangerous precedent. Its weakness is demonstrated by the fact that no party chose to support it in the Supreme Court, requiring that body to appoint an attorney to represent the Second Circuit’s view. The Supreme Court should reverse the Second Circuit and endorse the right of all writers to pursue their copyrights in court.”



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