Exclusive: Thousands of Black Writers affected by Copyright Class Action
Black newspapers and magazines will likely pay millions
March 19, 2007 – Wash, DC – (BlackPressMagazine.com) – Thousands of Black freelancers writers may soon receive the compensation they have been looking for as the proposed settlement offer received final approval by the Honorable George B. Daniels of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York.
Oral arguments were held on March 7, 2007 in New York as the case winds down. Michael Boni argued for plaintiffs and the Class, Charles Sims argued for the defendants and Charles Chalmers argued for the objectors.
Under the George Curry administration, more than half of NNPA's newspaper members have been named as defendants in one of the largest copyright class action lawsuits in the history of the country. Curry has recently announced he will step down from the news service.
The class action suit was brought by a group of largely White freelancer writers who alleged that their copyrights were infringed and that their work was published without compensation or their consent. Instead of alerting his readership - or membership - of important filing dates, NNPA went dark on the issue. It flat out ignored it.
In 2001, the United States Supreme Court found in Tasini vs. New York Times that freelance writers own all rights to their work, including the coveted digital rights. With digital rights publishers can reprint the articles on the Internet, on blogs, podcasts and other mediums. Although most writers only granted the publications the right to publish the work one time in print form, like a newspaper or magazine article, NNPA's news service didn't seem to care.
Publishers got greedy and began to sell the digital rights to freelancers' work to outside companies who created websites like KeepMedia.com and FindArticles.com, where hundreds of thousands of articles have been mostly illegally reprinted. The publishers got paid multiple times, but the freelancers got robbed. But in this case, the Black newspaper publishers got robbed too.
As part of their membership, the publishers were to receive access to royalty- and copyright-free articles written by freelancers through NNPA's news service, run then by Raoul Dennis, Todd Burroughs and Curry. Instead NNPA member newspapers like the Chicago Defender, Washington Informer, Precinct Reporter, and the Gary Crusader are facing a nasty lawsuit.
Curry had many opportunities to fix the copyright issue, but instead he sat back and let the publishers take the heat - and in most cases get caught off guard. His organization's rush to publish the works of thousands of Black freelance writers who never received one dime for the digitizing of their work could cause some Black owned newspapers to fold under the finanical pressure. Read more
ABOUT THE COPYRIGHT CLASS ACTION
Update: The appeal from the court's Order of September 2005 approving the settlement of this class action. Oral argument was held on March 7, 2007. Michael Boni argued for plaintiffs and the Class, Charles Sims argued for the defendants and Charles Chalmers argued for the objectors. We cannot predict how the panel will rule, or when. It is not unusual for Courts of Appeal to rule 6-9 months after the oral argument, or even longer. Please check this page periodically for any updates.
Find out if you're affected by the Copyright Class Action lawsuit.
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