IFJ Hails United States Authors' Rights Judgement: "A Stunning Victory For Freelance Writers"

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today welcomed a ruling in the United States Supreme Court that gives freelance writers and journalists control over whether material they sold for print can be used in electronic form.

"This verdict is a stunning victory for writers and a blow to those big media companies who have tried to steal away from creators their fundamental rights," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary in Brussels.

The US case was brought by the National Writers Union, an IFJ affiliate, against the New York Times. The case is a landmark decision in favour of authors, says the IFJ, which congratulated Jonathan Tasini, President of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and his members for their long-running campaign against the New York Times.

"Journalists' unions around the world will take great heart from this decision," said Aidan White, "Now, it's time for the media industry in every country to pay creators their fair share."

By a 7-2 majority, the Court upheld a September 1999 unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, which found that The New York Times and publishers had committed copyright infringement when they resold freelance newspaper and magazine articles, via electronic databases such as LexisNexis, without asking permission or making additional payments to the original authors.

"Today's decision vindicates the struggle taking place in many parts of the world to protect authors and creators from ruthless media employers who are trying to exploit their work without respecting their rights," said the IFJ which last year launched a worldwide campaign - Authors' Rights For All - to counter the media employers' opposition to strong intellectual property protection for authors.

"This is just the fillip that the authors' rights campaign needs," said Aidan White,"Unions of journalists will be rightly cheered and strengthened in their defence of rights."

Further details regarding the Tasini vs. New York Times litigation can be found at: www.nwu.org/tvt/vichome.htm