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Unformatted text preview: 1 NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY, INC., ET AL. v. JONATHAN TASINI, ET AL. 533 U.S. 483 (2001) JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court. This copyright case concerns the rights of freelance authors and a presumptive privilege of their publishers. The litigation was initiated by six freelance authors and relates to articles they contrib- uted to three print periodicals (two newspapers and one magazine). Under agreements with the peri- odicals' publishers, but without the freelancers' consent, two computer database companies placed copies of the freelancers' articles -- along with all other articles from the periodicals in which the freelancers' work appeared -- into three databases. Whether written by a freelancer or staff member, each article is presented to, and retrievable by, the user in isolation, clear of the context the original print publication presented. The freelance authors' complaint alleged that their copyrights had been infringed by the inclu- sion of their articles in the databases. The publishers, in response, relied on the [*488] privilege of reproduction and distribution accorded them by 201(c) of the Copyright Act, which provides: "Copyright in each separate contribution to a collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole, and vests initially in the author of the contribution. In the absence of an express transfer of the copyright or of any rights under it, the owner of copyright in the collective work is presumed to have acquired only the privilege of reproducing and distributing the contribution as part of that par- ticular collective work, any revision of that collective work, and any later collective work in the same series." 17 U.S.C. 201(c). Specifically, the publishers maintained that, as copyright owners of collective works, i.e. , the original print publications, they had merely exercised "the privilege" 201(c) accords them to "re- produce and distribute" the author's discretely copyrighted contribution. In agreement with the Second Circuit, we hold that 201(c) does not authorize the copying at issue here. The publishers are not sheltered by 201(c), we conclude, because the databases repro- duce and distribute articles standing alone and not in context, not "as part of that particular collec- tive work" to which the author contributed, "as part of . . . any revision" thereof, or "as part of . . . any later collective work in the same series." Both the print publishers and the electronic publishers, we rule, have infringed the copyrights of the freelance authors. I A Respondents Jonathan Tasini, Mary Kay Blakely, Barbara Garson, Margot Mifflin, Sonia Jaffe Robbins, and David S. Whitford are authors (Authors). Between 1990 and 1993, they wrote the 21 articles (Articles) on which this dispute centers. Tasini, Mifflin, and Blakely contributed 12 Articles to The New York Times, the daily newspaper published by [*489] petitioner The New York Times Company (Times). Tasini, Garson, Robbins, and Whitford wrote eight Articles for Newsday, an-Company (Times)....
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This note was uploaded on 01/13/2012 for the course LAW 33800A taught by Professor Williamfisher during the Fall '10 term at Harvard.
- Fall '10