A lawsuit was originally brought and decided in 2001 over the digital reproduction of work by freelance writers. The Supreme Court found in favor of the writers and the publishers began to remove the work from the archives. There remained, however, the issue of damages. A settlement had been agreed to but was voided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday on the grounds, according to the Times, that the federal copyright law only allows damages to be awarded to those writers who have registered their works with the US Copyright Office. Because the majority of freelancers did not register their works, the court could not adjudicate the claim.
The writers have vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.
This has far reaching implications. If the right of damages, which is the teeth of the Copyright Act, is dependent on registration, then all writers, including bloggers, might need to start registering their works. What a hassle.