How Are Authors Faring Post-Tasini?

By Ardito, Stephanie C. | Information Today, April 2004 | Go to article overview

How Are Authors Faring Post-Tasini?

Ardito, Stephanie C., Information Today

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of freelance writers on June 21, 2001 (New York Times Co., Inc., et al. v. Tasini, et al.), many of us assumed that significant changes would take place in the publishing world. Publishers would negotiate with the freelancers, paying retrospective royalties for articles placed in electronic databases without permission. New copyright payment mechanisms would spring up to handle distribution of royalties to non-publishers. Existing licensing systems would encourage authors, who retain their copyrights and don't turn them over to publishers, to register their articles and be compensated for electronic reuse of their works. Academic authors would jump on the bandwagon and finally be compensated for publishing their research papers. In short, we expected the balance of power to start shifting from publishers to authors.

In the nearly 3 years since the freelancers' victory, we've read numerous articles about the negative repercussions of the Supreme Court decision. The immediate reaction of publishers and online services was to threaten withdrawal of the freelancers' works from databases. Librarians and information professionals rose up, asking what they were going to do about gaps in coverage and pleading with the content providers to bargain with the freelancers.

Databases were analyzed to see how many publications and articles were deleted. Factiva and Dialog mounted lists of sources that were completely removed at publishers' requests, and they published lists of newspapers from which individual freelance articles were eliminated from their databases. The New York Times requested that 115,000 articles written by 27,000 authors be eradicated from the Nexis service. Fortunately for the searcher, while lists from the commercial online services still exist, the number of deleted publications and individual articles has dwindled. Some freelance articles and complete publications were restored to the online services; others remain permanently purged.

The focus of this article is not to rehash the pros and cons of the Supreme Court decision on gaps in coverage. Rather, the object is to examine the author's perspective since the Tasini case was adjudicated. In hindsight, do authors still consider the Tasini decision momentous? Are there any regrets over their nearly 15-year battle to be compensated for electronic reuse?

To answer these questions and others, I contacted the leaders of three authors' organizations: the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and Text and Academic Authors. I also spoke with Jonathan Tasini, the central figure in spearheading the authors' suit and Supreme Court decision. Tasini has left the National Writers Union and is currently national director of the American Rights at Work organization (http://www.americanrights

NWU's Stance

One of the major functions of the National Writers Union (NWU) is the operation of the Publication Rights Clearinghouse. The authors' equivalent to the publishers' Copyright Clearance Center, PRC acts as an agent for authors, collecting royalty payments on their behalf. I spoke with Gerard Colby, president of NWU, about author payments since the Tasini decision.

When the Supreme Court ruling was announced in June 2001, NWU did see a spike in new member registrations. The judgment seemed to be instrumental in bringing awareness to freelancers about their rights to collect payment on electronic works loaded into databases without the authors' permission. Some NWU members subsequently received back-royalty payments for electronic reuse. Generally, however, freelance writers are still waiting for retrospective payments. Since the Tasini victory prompted NWU to initiate class-action suits against publishers and database services, Colby is confident that successful settlement of these cases will occur "within a few months." At that point, authors should receive compensation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How Are Authors Faring Post-Tasini?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.