2004 GOOGLE in cooperation with university libraries, scanned more than 20 million books and incorporated them into its Google Book search engine. Copyright expert Jamie Bischoff, senior counsel at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia, said Monday the court's action is "pretty definitive" and unsurprising, especially because the author of the Second Circuit opinion that was upheld was Judge Pierre Leval, a copyright expert. Before joining the bench in 1993, Leval wrote an influential law review article on the fair use doctrine and the "transformative" standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ended a decade-long battle over Google, Inc.'s massive book-scanning project, declining to take up an appeal by authors who claimed the company violated copyright law "on an epic scale." The justices denied certiorari in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., leaving in place a ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that said Google's project was permissible. The appeals court decision invoked the "fair use" doctrine, which permits some "socially beneficial" use of published works—such as news reporting or research—that would otherwise constitute copyright infringement. “Today authors suffered a colossal loss,” Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson said in a statement.

2015 Appeals Court Says Google's Book-Scanning Project Is Legal, U.S. [10 year law suit it over]
An appeals court confirmed that Google’s scanning of more than 20 million books counts as fair use.

In a unanimous ruling handed down on Friday morning, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York deployed a familiar four-factor “fair use” test to conclude that the Google Books project was lawful. “We see no reason in this case why Google’s overall profit motivation should prevail as a reason for denying fair use over its highly convincing transformative purpose, together with the absence of significant substitutive competition, as reasons for granting fair use,” wrote Justice Pierre Leval.
This ruling appears to settle once and for all a case that began in 2005 when the Authors Guild as well as a number of book publishers brought lawsuits against Google over a project that saw the company partner with dozens of libraries to scan over 20 millions books. The Authors Guild renewed its lawsuit shortly after, but suffered a major setback in 2013 when a judge first ruled the scanning was fair use.

2014 18 MILLION: This is Why anyone would want to officially bother to have their work copyrighted.
$18 Million Settlement of Freelance Suit Against Electronic Databases Granted Final Approval
After 14 years, on June 10, 2014, we have received final approval from the U.S. Distinct Court, Southern District of New York, of our $18 million class-action settlement in In Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation.  While there is a 30-day period to appeal any objections made at the final hearing, we still believe that Authors who filed valid claims in accordance with the initial settlement in 2005 will receive payment sometime this year.  There is nothing any of the claimants need to do at this point except deposit your checks when you receive them.

Inadequate e-book royalties.
Traditionally, the author-publisher partnership was an equal one. Authors earned around 50% of their books’ profits. That equal split is reflected in the traditional hardcover royalty of 15% of list (cover price, that is, not the much lower wholesale price), and in the 50-50 split of publishers’ earnings from selling paperback, book club, or reprint rights. Authors generally received an even larger share than the publisher for non-print rights (such as stage and screen rights) and foreign rights. But today’s standard contracts give authors just 25% of the publisher’s “net receipts” (more or less what the publisher collects from a book sale) for e-book royalties. That doesn’t look like a partnership to us.

The recent decision in United States v. Apple raises the spectre once again of Amazon’s excessive power in the publishing landscape. The federal appellate court in the case agreed with the lower court that Apple had indeed violated antitrust law by cooperating with publishers to establish agency pricing for e-books (which allows publishers to set their own prices and pay the retailer a commission). The irony of this decision is that Apple’s actions actually helped to open the e-book market and to reduce Amazon’s monopoly from a 90% market share in 2009 to around 67% today.

Settlement in Freelance Writers' Suit By REUTERS March 30, 2005
The writers' representatives said that publishers including The New York Times Company; the Time Inc. unit of Time Warner; and Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, had agreed to pay writers up to $1,500 for articles with copyrights registered by the writers. Writers who failed to register their copyrights will receive up to $60 an article, the writers' group said.

Justices Reinstate Settlement With Writers 3/3/10 NYT

The Supreme Court on Tuesday resurrected a possible settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by freelance writers who said that newspapers and magazines had committed copyright infringement by making their contributions available on electronic databases. The proposed settlement was prompted by a 2001 decision from the Supreme Court in favor of six freelance authors claiming copyright infringement in The New York Times Company v. Tasini. After the Tasini decision, many freelance works were removed from online databases. Most publishers now require freelance writers to sign contracts granting both print and online rights. [Snip]
The publishers in the suit included Reed Elsevier, The New York Times Company, the Thomson Reuters Corporation, Dow Jones & Company, now owned by the News Corporation, and Knight Ridder, which the McClatchy Company bought in 2006. [Snip]
On Tuesday, in Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, No. 08-103, the court unanimously reversed the lower court ruling. In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court said some plaintiffs' failure to comply with the registration requirement did not deprive the lower courts of jurisdiction to consider the settlement. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who had ruled in favor of the publishers in Tasini as a trial court judge in New York, did not participate in the Supreme Court ruling.
Much More in the Complete Article

Full Text of Supreme Court Opinion (PDF)


Writers Settle With Databases for $18M
03.29.2005, 04:46 PM Forbes

A group of companies that operate electronic databases have agreed to pay freelance writers up to $18 million to settle copyright infringement claims brought under a class action lawsuit, according to a settlement announced Tuesday. The settlement covers claims brought against the companies by three groups representing freelance writers: the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Authors Guild, and the National Writers Union announced the filing of a motion for court approval of an $18 million settlement in a class action suit they and 21 freelance writers filed on behalf of thousands of freelance writers whose stories appeared in online databases without their consent. They expect preliminary court approval of the settlement within the next month.
Payment mechanism The Authors Registry, Inc.

This is the homepage for the In Re Literary Works In Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation, a case brought on behalf of freelance authors of literary works that were reproduced on electronic databases without the author's permission.

National Writers Union
The National Writers Union has 7,000 members nationwide, including journalists, book authors, technical writers and poets. It is the only union dedicated solely to advancing the interests of freelance writers.

The International Union UAW
UAW has more than 1.3 million active and retired members, including more than 100,00 members in its Technical, Office and Professional Department. In addition to free-lance writers, the UAW also represents attorneys, clerical workers, educators, firefighters, graphic designers, health care workers, librarians, museum workers, public employees, and many others.

Database operators settle copyright suit

Freelance writers to get up to $18m from class action
March 30, 2005 The Boston Globe The plaintiffs claimed that the database operators, including ProQuest Co., Reed Elsevier Group's LexisNexis database, as well as The New York Times Co., and Dow Jones & Co., used articles from freelance writers in databases without the authors' permission. The case was boosted by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that said the principles of copyright protection also applied to online distribution of editorial content. A motion for approval of the settlement was filed last week in federal court in New York, said Gerard Colby, president of the National Writers Union. ''We are going for preliminary approval before the judge, which we expect to get," Colby said. ''All the defendants and all the plaintiffs are in agreement on the terms."

6/26/01 National Writers Union and UAW hail Supreme Court ruling as victory for creators and consumers

From: "Jonathan Tasini" <>
Contact: Jonathan Tasini (212)-254-0279
Lindsay Barenz (202)-842-3100
Leaders of the National Writers Union and the International Union, UAW described today's Supreme Court ruling-which upholds copyright protections for free-lance writers-as a victory for creators and consumers. Union leaders also offered to begin negotiations immediately with the publishing industry to resolve billions of dollars in potential liabilities created by repeat violations of U.S. copyright law.
"The Court has upheld the spirit of the Constitutional protection for copyright, which was written for the benefit of individual authors," said Jonathan Tasini, president of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. New York Times. "Now, it's time for the media industry to pay creators their fair share and let's sit down and negotiate over this today."
By a 7-2 majority, the Court upheld a September 1999 unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, which found that The New York Times and publishers had committed copyright infringement when they resold freelance newspaper and magazine articles, via electronic databases such as LexisNexis, without asking permission or making additional payments to the original authors.
"We're proud to have supported our members in the National Writers Union in their fight to be treated fairly by the publishing industry," said UAW President Stephen P. Yokich. "Today's decision paves the way for writers and other creators to be fairly compensated for their work. That's good news all of us, because we all benefit when the legal protections of copyright encourage the creation of new art, science, and literature."
The International Union, UAW, has provided legal and financial support for the groundbreaking litigation, which was filed by nine free-lance members of UAW Local 1981, the National Writers Union, in 1993 "Our message to the publishing industry now is: let's negotiate," said UAW Vice President Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional Department. "The New York Times and other publishers face billions of dollars of potential liability for selling articles to which they hold no copyright. The way to settle these obligations is to meet at the bargaining table, so we can find solutions that are fair to writers, to the industry, and for consumers."
The NWU, Tasini said, is already party to a class action lawsuit, which will enforce the copyright protections affirmed today by the Supreme Court.
"We want to settle past claims in a reasonable fashion, and establish a mechanism so that free-lancers can be compensated fairly from now on," said Tasini. The Publication Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), said Tasini, established by the NWU in 1993, offers a way for writers and publisher to track the ownership of copyright, and payment for authorized re-sale of copyrighted works.

Free-lance writers, whether or not they are NWU members, can use the PRC to license their works by visiting
Further details regarding the Tasini vs. New York Times litigation can be found at:

Freelance Writers Win Online Rights Case
By Christopher Stern
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 25, 2001; 12:44 PM
The Supreme Court handed some of the nation's biggest media companies a setback today when it ruled that publishers need freelance writers' permission before posting their articles on the Internet, on CD-Roms or in electronic databases.

11th Circuit Sides With National Geographic in Copyright Case 7-02-2008
Judges vote 7-5 that freelancers cannot collect royalties from magazine's CD-ROM of its archives
National Geographic won its dual victories after more than a decade of litigation in two federal circuits. The publisher of National Geographic has battled freelance writers and photographers over whether it must pay them additional royalties associated with the sale of "The Complete National Geographic" -- a digital version of the magazine's published archive.Judge Rosemary Barkett, writing the majority opinion for a sharply divided en banc court of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the claims of a freelance Florida photographer whose work has been published in National Geographic.


Global Internet Copyright Treaty Enters Into Force
From: "U.S. Dept of State List Manager" <Listmgr@PD.STATE.GOV
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 21:45:25 -0500
Subject: Global Internet Copyright Treaty Enters Into Force

Global Internet Copyright Treaty Enters Into Force (WIPO pact protects rights of authors in cyberspace) (580)
An international treaty negotiated in 1996 to protect authors' copyrights on the Internet came into force March 6.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT) is one of a pair of treaties negotiated by 160 countries to protect against Internet piracy. The second pact, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), covers sound recordings and will come into force on May 20.
The treaties become law three months after they are ratified by 30 countries. Gabon became the 30th country to join the WCT in December 2001. Honduras became the 30th country to join the WPPT on February 20, 2002.
Both pacts are designed to bring intellectual property law into the digital age by preventing unauthorized copying or use of work and to ensure the payment of royalties. In a statement, WIPO Director General Kamil Idris emphasized the importance of the new norms provided for in the WCT and the WPPT which, he said, "are vital for the further development of the Internet, electronic commerce and thereby the culture and information industries."
The 30 parties to the WCT are: Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Georgia, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.
Following is the text of the WIPO statement: (begin text)
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Geneva, March 6, 2002
WCT Enters Into Force
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT), one of two key treaties that will bring copyright law in line with the digital age, entered into force on March 6, 2002. The second of these so-called "Internet treaties", the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), enters into force on May 20, 2002. The treaties lay down the legal groundwork to safeguard the interests of creators in cyberspace and open new horizons for composers, artists, writers and others to use the Internet with confidence to create, distribute and control the use of their works within the digital environment.
The Director General of WIPO, Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed this important development in the history of copyright law. He emphasized the importance of the new norms provided for in the WCT and the WPPT which, he said, are vital for the further development of the Internet, electronic commerce and thereby the culture and information industries. The treaties were agreed in 1996 and become law three months after they are ratified by 30 states. Gabon became the 30th country to join the WCT last December. Honduras became the 30th state to join the WPPT on February 20, 2002.
To be truly effective, the Director General stressed, the treaties must become widely adopted by countries in all regions of the world. "While we have reached the key number of 30 countries required for entry into force, I urge all other countries to follow suit and to incorporate the provisions of the WCT and WPPT into their national legislation. This will create the conditions necessary for the broad-based and legitimate distribution of creative works and recordings on the Internet," he said.
For more information about the WCT, please consult PR/300/2001 or contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section at WIPO:
Tel: +41 22 338 81 61 or 338 95 47; Fax: + 41 22 338 88 10;
E-mail: publicinf [[at]] (end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.Department of State. Web site: NNNN

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