Court Rejects Settlement for Freelance Writers

Aug 18, 2011

In 2005, freelance writers won a settlement for copyright infringements from unauthorized electronic reproduction of their works, but this week, a federal Court of Appeals rejected the settlement, finding that not all persons bringing the suit had interests that were totally aligned, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. The class action was brought by 21 named plaintiffs and three associational plaintiffs (the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors) against defendants who included the owners of LexisNexis and Westlaw, along with The New York Times and Dow Jones. The settlement divides the works into three categories based on when or whether the authors registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in time to be eligible for corresponding damages under the Copyright Act. So, for instance, freelancers who had registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office by a certain time would receive higher damages than those who never registered. Claims for those who never registered were capped to $18 million under the settlement. The defendants are currently exploring other options to pursue their case. Have you ever struggled with copyright or other intellectual property issues? Share your story, or let freelancers know which companies aren’t the most trustworthy through the Client Scorecard. (photo by afsart, via flickr)