Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Formalities Dictate Freelance Settlement

In the US a class-action lawsuit aimed at the payment of freelance writers for work collected in (online) databases without their approval has resulted in an agreement with publishers. From the press release:
Under the terms of the settlement, publishers [...] agreed to pay writers up to $1,500 for stories in which the writers had registered the copyright in accordance with timetables established in federal copyright law. Writers who failed to register their copyrights will receive up to $60 per article; the organizations believe that many such writers will have valid claims for hundreds of such articles.
The settlement has to be approved by the court that oversees the settlement. Will that court also oversee article 5(2) Berne Convention? This article prohibits national formalities to rule the enjoyment and exercise of (a writer's) copyright:
(2) The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality; such enjoyment and such exercise shall be independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work.
Don't know what the procedure is (active/passive role of the court), but to divide fees for freelancers on the basis of formalities seems (legally) unjust.
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In the Netherlands there have been several court cases over the remuneration of freelancers. Columnist Max Pam gives an (opinionated) introduction to some of them in this old article. (Dutch)

(Thanks Chris)
Thru Furdlog

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