Sunday, December 14, 2008

Take note, fellow freelancers!

...Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review photographer Jerry Greenberg's appeal (okay, the legalese is "denied the appeal") in his 11-year-long case against National Geographic for including 60 photos of his work in "The Complete National Geographic," a 30-disc CD-ROM compilation.
The Supreme Court denied Greenberg's petition for a writ of certiorari on Monday, which lets stand the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision from July holding that the National Geographic Society – and by extension, other publishers – have the right to reproduce their magazines' archive in digital format without paying any additional royalties to freelance photographers.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, legal counsel for The National Press Photographer's Association, assessed the situation for freelancers:
"In these terrible economic times it will now allow publishers to create and sell electronic archives of their previously published works without infringing on the copyrights of the contributors to those works. This creates a terrible burden on the ability of photographers to earn a living.”

“It will now be imperative for photographers, authors, artists, and creators to be aware of this
decision as they negotiate for the use of their work and make sure that any contract that they agree to clearly delineate those rights and limitations."
This appears to weaken the 2001 ruling in New York Times Co., Inc. v. Tasini, a case decided in favor of the authors over electronic rights.

Read the full story on this latest blow to freelancers here, and more about the history here and here>.

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