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Online writing gets $18 million out of NY Times

Online writing gets $18 million out of NY Times

Freelance writers have reached a settlement worth as much as $18 million with The New York Times Company and other defendants in a copyright infringement case involving work posted online or in databases, the writers' representatives said yesterday.

A motion for approval of the settlement was filed last week in federal court in New York, said Gerard Colby, president of the National Writers Union, one of several writers' groups that brought the class-action lawsuit.

"We are going for preliminary approval before the judge, which we expect to get," Colby said. "All the defendants and all the plaintiffs are in agreement on the terms."

The lawsuit contended that stories by thousands of freelance writers appeared in online databases without their consent. The case was boosted by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that said the principles of copyright protection also applied to online distribution of editorial content.

The writers' representatives said in a press release that under the settlement, publishers including The New York Times, Time Warner Inc.'s Time Inc. unit and Dow Jones & Co Inc.'s Wall Street Journal have agreed to pay writers up to $1,500 for stories in which the writers had registered the copyrights.

Writers who failed to register their copyrights will receive up to $60 per article, the writers' group said.

"This is a substantial settlement, and, if approved, it will vindicate freelance writers who deserve compensation and control for their work in the electronic marketplace," said Nick Taylor, president of the Authors Guild, another writers' group involved in bringing the case.

The New York Times said in a statement it is "pleased that this issue has been resolved and believes the agreement is fair to all parties involved."

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