On March 2, the US Supreme Court reversed the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and voted 8-0 (Justice Sotomayor did not participate in the case) to uphold an $18 million settlement of a copyright infringement suit between Internet publishers and freelance writers.
The National Writers Union is a party to this settlement that followed the landmark 2001 Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. v. Tasini
, where the court ruled that publishers may not reproduce freelance works electronically without the specific permission of the authors. The case was brought by former NWU president Jonathan Tasini and others, and was made possible by the financial and legal support of the UAW. It was a major breakthrough for the NWU.
The class action suit, involving some authors who had registered their articles and others who had not, was settled in 2005. Several plaintiffs objected to the settlement, but it was upheld by the District Court in New York in 2007. The objectors appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which threw out the settlement on the basis that the court had no jurisdiction of a suit or a settlement involving unregistered works.
The Supreme Court has now overturned that decision, possibly bringing the $18 million pay day just a bit closer for those authors who filed claims and are a part of the settlement. A final settlement of this case, with all its limitations, would be a victory for our union.
To read an article from the National Law Journal on the settlement, click here