A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit involving close to 3,000 freelance journalists who claimed copyright infringement by some of the nation's biggest publishers.
The suit, filed 17 years ago by the Authors Guild, National Writers Union, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and 21 freelance writers, said publishers licensed and listed articles belonging to freelancers on digital indexes without permission. Lexis/Nexis, The New York Times, Reed Elsevier and others became defendants in the case.
The argument made by the plaintiffs was that the writers only received pay for a single use of their work. Some companies, such as The Times, ended up selling these works to others without providing any compensation to freelancers, essentially lumping this freelance work into the same category as work performed by employees.
A $9 million settlement
Finally, after an extensive wait, the checks are in the mail to these writers. A $9 million settlement will be split among writers based on the number of works submitted and used, along with other factors.
This is just one case involving thousands of people who had their works used against their wishes. Keep in mind that any work you copyright is your own unless you sign documents to completely sell that work to another party. If you retain the rights to a work and a company continues to list or publish it without your knowledge or against your wishes, you should be able to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your losses as well as for the legal fees you accrue.