Publishers and database vendors consider their next steps
This article appeared July 15, 2001, in the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge publication. The original article is below. Here’s the edited version on the NAA site.
By J.D. Lasica
Database vendors have begun pursuing different paths in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Tasini v. New York Times ruling June 25, with some purging their databases of unlicensed freelance material at the behest of their newspaper partners and others taking a stance of watchful waiting.
Jonathan Tasini, meanwhile, said newspaper publishers are making a mistake if they rush ahead with plans to delete freelance articles. “I’m sincerely hopeful that reasonable publishers will sit down and negotiate with us,” he said. “From day one our position has been to put out an olive branch to the industry and say, ‘Let’s sit down and cooperate.’ There are two ways to look at this. One way is to wind up in an all-out war of litigation. The second way is to look at the notion of partnership as a reality.”
The court ruled that The New York Times, Newsday, Time Inc., Lexis Nexis and others violated the federal Copyright Act by publishing freelance materials in archival electronic databases without the writers’ permission. The ruling applies to all publishers that failed to obtain clearances from writers for digital rights. Most newspapers began adding such provisions to their standard freelance agreements in the mid-1990s.