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<nettime> Authors Regain Copyright Control
Buffalo Bob on 3 Aug 2000 02:20:40 -0000


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<nettime> Authors Regain Copyright Control


Freelance Authors Regain Copyright Control Through Innovative Settlement

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 26

Document Provider to Obtain Permission Before Selling Authors' Articles
Electronically

Historic Legal Settlement Includes Class Notification to Authors

The settlement, believed to be the first class action lawsuit of its kind
in the nation, instructs commercial document delivery services to obtain
permission from authors before their creative works can be sold
electronically via the Internet. The case involved a group of individual
authors who challenged UnCover, an online document delivery service that
sold copyrighted magazine and journal articles over the Internet without
the author's permission. UnCover pursued royalty contracts with many
periodical publishers and paid copyright fees to publishers, but not to
individual authors. 

The $7.25 million settlement, preliminarily approved by the federal court
in Oakland, California, requires UnCover to expand its copyright
permission and royalty payment system to include individual authors as
well as publishers, and to obtain certain specified forms of permission
before delivery of such articles. UnCover will now also offer a licensing
agreement with any author who requests it, paying royalties semi-annually.
The settlement fund will come from other settling parties. 

The settlement also uniquely initiates a search for thousands of authors,
poets and other academic and creative writers who may have had their works
sold by UnCover in the past. Any authors who retained their copyright in
any article delivered by UnCover between October 22, 1994 and July 12,
2000 may be eligible to participate in the settlement. Anyone whose
written work has been published in a magazine or periodical is strongly
encouraged to visit the special Web site
(http://www.uncoversettlement.com) where a potential class member can get
complete information and submit their claim for a share of the settlement
via the Internet. The Web site will be launched on Monday, July 31, 2000. 

"Selling individual articles electronically without author permission has
been an industry-wide practice. We believe the law does not allow the
practice, and this settlement should go a long way to changing it," said
the authors' attorney John Shuff of the national law firm of Robins,
Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. ( http://www.rkmc.com ), known for its
broad experience in complex litigation. "We hope the industry will take
notice and adopt the same permission procedures as UnCover."

The representative plaintiffs, a group of freelance and academic writers,
and poets, were Joan Ryan, Jim Tunney, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Lyn
Hejinian and Ron Silliman. 

"The intellectual property owned by authors is no different than music
owned by songwriters or images owned by photographers," said copyright
attorney Dan Reidy of the Law Offices of Daniel A. Reidy of Sausalito,
California, co-counsel with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.,
referring to recent legal challenges to the electronic downloading and
distribution of music and photos on CDs or via the Internet. "Authors have
not only regained control of their work, but perhaps more importantly,
they have regained control of their value," said Reidy.  UnCover's
founder, Ward Shaw, said that UnCover has long worked with publishers and
rights organizations such as the Copyright Clearance Center and the
National Writers Union's Publication Rights Clearinghouse to pay copyright
for delivery of the articles researchers and others need. "We are happy to
work with individual authors directly as well," said Shaw. UnCover (
http://www.uncweb.carl.org )  maintains a database of approximately eight
million articles -- increasing by approximately 5,000 per day -- from more
than 17,000 periodicals, and specializes in supplying copies of articles
from often hard-to-find scientific, medical and technical journals and
other publications. 

/NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the Summary Notice are available upon request. 
The settlement Web site, http://www.uncoversettlement.com , will be launched 
July 31, 2000/

/CONTACT: Daniel A. Reidy of the Law Offices of Daniel A. Reidy, 
415-331-7500, Janette L. Ferguson of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., 
415-235-6649, cell 650-579-2709, or Michael Traynor, 415-693-2110, or Robert 
L. Eisenbach, 415-693-2094, both of Cooley Godward LLP/




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