May 2, 2018
A class action suit for violation of copyright, first filed in 2001, has finally brought checks to writers. The initial settlement in the case, the Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation, was approved in 2005, followed by more years of litigation. The deadline for authors to file claims was in 2005.
Although most of the publications listed as being involved on the Copyright Class Action Web site are nonfiction, a few magazines that published fantasy and science are on the list, including Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Omni.
The Contracts Committee is concerned about two potential groups of SFWA members: members who may have filed a claim, and then moved before the checks were mailed, who did not notify the Administrators of their change of address; and representatives of estates of writers who filed claims.
If you filed a claim or are administering the estate of a writer who filed claims in the Copyright Class Action suit regarding copyright infringement, please be aware that the administrators mailed checks on April 26 written in the name of the author to the most recent address they had in their files. These claims relate to the unauthorized use of copyrighted stories in electronic data bases, which in practice means stories originally published in magazines or other periodicals. It is now too late to file further claims. If you don’t know if the deceased author filed a claim, you may want to contact the administrators. You should also check your files for letters mailed by the Administrators in 2014. (Both the 2014 letter and the recent checks were mailed in plain business envelopes.) Payments have been made for both registered and unregistered works, though the formula used to calculate payments gives larger payments for registered works.
More information on the settlement is at http://copyrightclassaction.com/ In regard to deceased authors, that site says:
“Checks Addressed to Family Members Who Have Passed Away: We are sensitive to the potential difficulties heirs may have depositing checks issued to claimants who are now deceased. However, the claims administrator is not in a position to make legal determinations of who the appropriate recipient of the check should be and will only re-issue a check to the decedent’s estate.”
You can find more information on the settlement from the AuthorsGuild at
The New York Times has a story at
Publishers Weekly report the story at
There is a topic in the discussion forums about the case at https://www.sfwa.org/forum/topic/6958-copyright-class-action-settlement/?page=4
You can also contact the Contracts Committee and the SFWA Estates Project for information.
SFWA Contracts Committee
SFWA Estates Project