Is Copyright Now Necessary?

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Hi Writers,
Wow, I hate to be a buzz-kill over the holidays, but I read an alarming report in Publishers Weekly and thought it was important to share with you: Court Voids Settlement in Tasini v New York Times

Here's an excerpt:
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has thown out a settlement between freelance writers and publishers reached after a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that publishers had violated the copyright of freelance writers by using their works in electronic databases without their permission. The 2001 Supreme Court decision was reached in Tasini v. The New York Times, a case involving Jonathan Tasini, then president of the National Writers Union, and five other plaintiffs. The appellate court ruling voids a settlement that created a pool of $18 million that was to be paid out to freelance writers in an associated class-action suit.

In the 2 to 1 decision, the appellate court ruled that only writers who had registered their works with the copyright office were eligible to file claims for damage. Since the overwhelming majority of freelance writers did not register their works, the appellate court reasoned that the courts did not have jurisdiction over the dispute and were wrong to approve the class action suit as well as the subsequent settlement. However, in a dissenting opinion, Chief Judge John M. Walker, argued that registering for a copyright was more of a “claim-processing rule,” rather than a “jurisdictional prerequisite.”

If so inclined, you can read background on the case here: Tasini vs. New York Times.

Also, it currently costs $45 (ouch!) to copyright a manuscript. To learn more about copyright, here’s the U.S. Copyright Office website

Until now, Writer's Digest hasn’t recommended writers getting their own copyright, since it was deemed both costly and unnecessary. Unfortunately, we may soon have to change that stance.

Here’s my question for you: In light of this new threat to writers' rights, is it now necessary for writers to get each and every manuscript copyrighted?

Keep Writing,


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