Frequently Asked Questions
The full Notice of Revised Class Action Settlement posted on this website contains a detailed description of the lawsuit, the revised settlement, and the options available to class members. Please review the full Notice for details about the revised settlement.
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Q. When will I get paid? Has the revised settlement received final approval yet?
A. It is not known at this time exactly when valid claims will be paid. The District Court will first have to grant final approval of the revised settlement. The hearing on final approval is set for June 10, 2014. If the District Court approves the settlement and its decision is appealed, there is a risk that the Court of Appeals could overturn the approval of the revised settlement. Until there is a final non-appealable decision, no payments can be made.
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Q. I think that when I sold my works to the original publisher I may have signed away all of my rights including the rights to electronic distribution, but now I can't find the original contract or I am having trouble understanding the details of the original contract. Is my claim still eligible under the terms of the revised settlement?
A. As an initial matter, you are not eligible for compensation under the revised settlement unless you submitted a timely, valid claim in response to the 2005 settlement. Your works are excluded from the revised settlement if (1) you signed a written license expressly granting the original print publisher the electronic rights to those works, OR (2) the works were not registered with the Copyright Office and you signed a written license agreement that contained an express waiver or release against all copyright infringement claims for those works.
Contract interpretation is a judicial function. In this class action, it would not be an appropriate procedure for plaintiffs' counsel to review thousands of contracts for the individual class members and then submit papers to the District Court requesting contract interpretation. The revised settlement was reached with the recognition and understanding that many authors would not have complete contract materials. Therefore, the revised settlement has been crafted such that a definitive interpretation of each contract involved is not necessary for the claims administration process to go forward.
In the event a Defendant challenges a claim on the basis of contractual language, that Defendant would be required to provide evidence of express authorization or express waiver/release.
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Q. I worked for a period of time at a publication as a freelancer, but I was receiving a monthly/weekly stipend or retainer fee. Are works written under this arrangement eligible to be included in the revised settlement?
A. As an initial matter, you are not eligible for compensation under the revised settlement unless you submitted a timely, valid claim in response to the 2005 settlement. Your works are excluded from the revised settlement if they were staff works or works-for-hire, i.e., works written while you were employed by the publication(s) that originally published the works. If the monthly/weekly stipend/retainer fee you received is the equivalent of a salary paid to an employee or a fee paid under a works-made-for-hire relationship, then the works written for that publication during that time frame are not eligible for compensation under the revised settlement. If, on the other hand, the payment was more the equivalent of an expense paid to an independent contractor, then the works may be eligible. If the publisher wishes to challenge your freelance status as it relates to those works, that issue can be resolved through the dispute-resolution procedure.
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Q. How are syndicated articles treated under the revised settlement?
A. As an initial matter, you are not eligible for compensation under the revised settlement unless you submitted a timely, valid claim in response to the 2005 settlement. The Revised Settlement Agreement clarifies that for those syndicated works which are considered a single Subject Work under the settlement, the settlement payment will be based upon the payment made by the publication that first published the work -- not on the aggregate amount paid for the syndicated work by all publishers.
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Q. The person you sent the notice to has since died. What should I do with this notice?
A. If you are the beneficiary of the deceased person's estate, you may recover under this revised settlement on his or her behalf only if he or she timely filed a valid claim in response to the 2005 settlement. You will need to contact the Claims Administrator regarding your situation and provide a copy of the death certificate and power of attorney or other legal documentation to show that you are authorized to act on behalf of the estate.
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