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Authors Guild Suit Against NY Times

July 5, 2001


Class Action Seeks Global Resolution to Dispute Over Contributions to
Times' Electronic Database

NEW YORK -- The Authors Guild and freelance writers Derrick Bell and Lynn
Brenner filed a copyright infringement suit against the New York Times
late Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan.  The plaintiffs seek
class-action status to represent all freelance writers who have
contributed works that originally appeared in a New York Times print
publication and were subsequently reproduced in the Times' electronic
database or other electronic databases without the writers' authorization.

The freelance writers had licensed the Times to use their works in print
editions, but not in its electronic databases, or those that it licenses
to third parties.  Last week, in New York Times v. Tasini, the Supreme
Court ruled that the Times had infringed the copyrights of a group of
freelancers by making such electronic uses of their articles.

"The Authors Guild has taken this action to protect the economic interests
of our members and all freelance writers," said Guild president Letty
Cottin Pogrebin.  "Our action has been prompted by the Times' aggressive
campaign of the past 10 days."

Since the Supreme Court's decision, the Times has been telling the public
and its freelance contributors through public statements and a Web site
that it is now compelled to remove articles from its electronic archives
unless writers release the Times from liability.  "This does not strike us
as an appropriate posture for the so-called paper of record," added

"The Supreme Court didn't say the Times had to remove the articles, it
said the Times had to pay for them," explained plaintiff Derrick Bell, a
visiting law professor at New York University and a member of the Guild's
governing board.  "The Court stressed that these rights issues could be
resolved through licensing systems, such as that operated by the Authors
Registry. The Times shakes its head about the tragic loss to the public of
parts of its archive, yet won't even begin to negotiate payment for the
works it wants to use in its databases."

"The Times continues to show a deliberate disregard for the possibility of
acquiring proper licenses to these works," said Guild executive director
Paul Aiken.  "The Times has gone to great lengths to avoid sharing some of
its database revenue with its contributors, compelling many freelancers to
retroactively surrender their electronic rights to their prior work
without additional payment if they want to contribute to the newspaper now
or in the future."

"The legal principle has been established -- the Times' unauthorized
electronic use of freelance articles is copyright infringement," said
Michael Boni of Kohn, Swift & Graf, attorneys for the plaintiffs.  "With
this action we seek to resolve this dispute on a global basis, both for
past infringement and for future uses of the freelance works."

The Guild and freelance writers had sued nine database companies last
August over the databases' use of freelance articles.  Mr. Boni also
represents the plaintiffs in that action, for which plaintiffs also seek
class-action status.

The Authors Registry is a not-for-profit organization that functions as a
clearinghouse for rights payments.  It has 30,000 writers in its database
and has paid writers more than $1.5 million in photocopy and electronic
rights royalties to date.  These payments have been made for re-use --
including electronic database use -- of freelance articles and books.
Writers need not be Guild members to enroll; 36 writers' organizations and
109 literary agencies have signed up to include their members and clients.

"The Authors Registry is an ideal vehicle for resolving these issues,"
said Pogrebin.

The Authors Guild, founded in 1912, is the largest organization of
published book authors and freelance journalists in America.