Way back in 2001 the National Writers Union (NWY.org) sued newspapers and magazines who sold published articles to databases on the grounds such sales were a violation of the author’s copyrights. The suit, known as Tasini et al v. The New York Times et al was decided in favor of the authors, setting the stage for a n $18 million settlement.
There were two groups of authors involved, those that had actually registered their copyrights (which, by the way, you can now do online) and those who hadn’t, knowing that they had an automatic, defensible copyright without filing. As you might imagine the second group was much larger than the first.
Unfortunately some of the authors in the group that had filed a copyright objected to the settlement on the grounds that by including those who hadn’t filed for a copyright the proceeds of the settlement would be spread too thin. This meant the settlement was reviewed by a lower court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York in 2007 who refused to approve the settlement on what I think is called a technicality. (Don’t you just love this sort of snarl?)
That kicked the issue back to the Supreme Court. On March 2, the Supremes reinstated the settlement.
This reinstatement reinforces copyrights for writers.
Let’s hope it holds. (I wonder who collects the interest on the $18 million – probably banks.)
Image from http://www.sxc.hu