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US Supremes defy online Media giants

Freelancers must be paid for Net editions

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We all know that the Titans of media and entertainment have waged a successful PR campaign inspiring the US Congress and courts to defend the holy sacrament of copyright; but we'll bet they never expected to be quite this successful:

The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled 7/2 that Internet editions of works in print are separate editions, not mere revisions, and cannot therefore be published on line without the author's permission.

Under US copyright regs, publishers don't need permission to produce a revised edition.

The case is New York Times v. Tasini, in which several freelance writers sued the New York Times, Newsday and Time for adding their work to electronic databases without permission.

The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in 1999 overturned a District Court decision which had upheld the publishers' claim that Internet editions are mere revisions. And now the Supremes have affirmed the appellate court's ruling.

Big publishers have long warned that failing to protect copyrights aggressively would lead to the demise of the world economy; but of course they never meant that the copyrights of the little guy should be included in this scenario. They meant that copyrights are sacred only after a big corporation has bought them.

Strange that the Supreme Court would have missed this crucial point. ®

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