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Public's right to access vs. (travel) writers' right to compensation

Public's right to access vs. (travel) writers' right to compensation

Old Jun 27th, 2001, 04:33 AM
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Public's right to access vs. (travel) writers' right to compensation

I suppose that I am a lot more interested in this story than most people:


"Publishers Purge Freelancers"

see also five articles (but this week only, for free) on www.nytimes.com on this subject - - search "freelancers"

My daughter is a major in screenwriting (presumably to someday join the Writers' Guild of America - - which "threatened" to "shut down" Hollywood this spring - - surprisingly, the resolution of their dispute made it onto almost nobody's radar screen, i think - - but i was away in italy), so I am very sensitive to the rights of a writer to be compensated equitably. Myself - - I, am NOT a writer, though I "dispense" a lot of information here and there - - in written form, curiously - - and its compilation is something that I wonder - - would it ever have value?

But I am chagrined at the potential loss to READERS by this Supreme Court decision.

And I post this here because the NPR analysis said that TRAVEL articles (some of which "stay up" for FREE) on www.nytimes.com might be among the first to go.

None of us has the "right" to "own" free and unlimited access to the writings of others - - and certainly NEVER to profit from them. But no one thinks it's a "crime" to keep (even diligently, obsessively) a "scrapbook" of favorite (and valuable) travel articles - - and the NYTimes is one of the best sources there is. So if you have favorites there that you never "captured" - - you might get 'em while you can - - for your own personal use (and friends? and fodorites?), of course!

Best wishes,

Old Jun 27th, 2001, 11:22 AM
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I'm biased, as I used to work as a writer and editor, and did some freelance work, but I think this decision is a huge positive step.

Publications, like the NY Times, get away with paying freelancers poorly because the freelancers aren't organized, and typically don't have much clout when negotiating rates and contract terms. Therefore, publishers have been taking advantage of them for years. In a previous job, my own publisher actually reduced our per word rate from 50 cents to 30 cents, and told all of our freelancers "Take it or leave it." They all took it, because leaving it meant dumping their major source of income.

This in no way harms the public's access. All they have to do is go and buy the publication, or go read it at the library.

Rex, why do you so obssessively use quotation marks? Quotes should ONLY be used if you're actually quoting a person or other source. Stop the madness!
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 11:41 AM
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I agree absolutely with Ann; I am a published author, also, perhaps that's why I respect writers getting paid for their work and copyright laws (although I don't get paid, I also publish in academic journals, but it does make one care more about such things). This does not harm the public's access to anything, it just says companies who use writers' articles online and in databases (where they sell them) without compensating them or getting their permission can't do it any more. This decision was in reference to past articles where the writer had no agreement or contract that the company could publish their work online, as I read it, and they were never compensated accordingly. Sites such as the NYTimes etc do this to make money, why shouldn't the author be compensated? All they have to do is write a contract and pay the author for the right to publish their stuff online, that's all. As the article said, newer contracts include electronic rights clauses and payment, it's just the old ones before web sites existed that are the cases where they are trying to use someone's work without compensation. The public doesn't have the "right" to any private product, what are you talking about.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 11:45 AM
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oh, PS rex, the compilation of your pearls of wisdom would have no value, so stop wondering. And I used to live and work in Hollywood and people with screenplays in their pockets work at every McDonalds in the city, so big deal.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 12:15 PM
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But Christina, surely Rex's nuggets of wisdom would have some monetary value? He uses more quotation marks than other people, and that's got to be worth something.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 05:39 PM
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Rex, I heard this story on NPR too, but one thing I remember hearing that you may have missed is that this ruling applies mostly to old material. The contracts that major media outlets have with their freelancers now specifically include the rights to archive and reproduce. It is the stuff ten years old or older that is at stake here.
Old Jun 27th, 2001, 06:18 PM
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Rex, when are you going away again? This board was so much better during your last trip!

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