Union Opposes Merger


June 29, 2000
Contact: Jonathan Tasini
New York, NY: The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) today called on the Federal Trade Commission to block the proposed merger between Time Warner Inc. and American OnLine or place significant restrictions on the new company as a condition for approving the merger.
In a June 28th letter to FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky, the union's president, Jonathan Tasini, asked that the FTC require that "as a condition for the merger to proceed, the merged company agree not to impose "all-rights" or "work-for-hire" contracts on its freelance contributors because such contracts do not normally reflect or permit free market negotiations."
Unless the FTC acts to bar such contracts, the merger "will damage consumers' interests in having a wide variety of sources of information, restrict innovation by driving writers and other creators from the business of content creation, and threaten the diversity of the marketplace of ideas," according to the letter to Pitofsky.
Elaborating on the letter to Pitofsky, Tasini underscored that the proposed merger, if approved, would fuel the plague of unconscionable contracts huge media companies are forcing freelancer writers and other creators to sign as a condition of receiving assignments. "Under the guise of promoting the great new information age, media companies like Time Warner are engaging in the greatest systematic confiscation of copyright in human history," he said. "Within a few years, no individual author will own his or her copyright."
The union also cited in its FTC filing its general public interest concern over the merger's effect on access to information. "The consolidation of enormous power that the proposed merger embodies unfairly threatens authors and the right of the public to access a broad and diverse array of information, especially serious political, economic and/or business information with a national dimension from freelance sources. It will allow a handful of companies, who may work together or in a parallel fashion, to decide what is published," Tasini wrote.
The NWU has previously cautioned the parties involved regarding potential undisclosed Time Warner liabilities arising out of their loss in the Tasini v NY Times copyright violation lawsuit.
The National Writers Union has more than 6,100 members nationwide, representing journalists, book authors, technical writers and poets. It is the only union dedicated solely to advancing the interests of freelance writers. The NWU is affiliated with the United Auto Workers.
Last Modified: June 28, 2000.


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