SW Legal Educational Publishing

Electronic Databases Cannot Copy Copyrighted Articles Without Permission
Description Authors of copyrighted articles published in various print media were held to have maintained their right over the sale or granting the use of their articles in electronic databases. The original publisher cannot allow the articles to be used in such databases without permission of the authors.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Copyright; Electronic Data Bases
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A group of writers sued the publishers of various electronic data bases, such as NEXIS, for infringing on their copyrights. The authors had published copyrighted articles in print media. The original publishers allowed NEXIS to republish the articles without compensation to or permission from the authors. The publishers contended that as owners of "collected works," such as the entire magazine or newspaper in which the articles appeared, that they could grant permission to others to republish the articles as a part of a larger work. The district court dismissed the suit; the authors appealed.
Decision Reversed. "In the absence of a transfer of copyright or any rights thereunder, collective-works authors may re-license individual works...." The original publisher could have had the authors agree to give it unlimited rights with respect to further disposition of the work, but that was not done, so the rights to republish the works in an electronic database remain with the author. The authors must transfer the copyright or their rights before their works may be published beyond the original.
Citation Tasini v. The New York Times Co., Inc., - F.3d - (1999 WL 753966, 2nd Cir.)

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