Tasini v. The New York Times et al.

Emily Bass

Case Conclusion Date:March 20, 2010

Practice Area:Intellectual Property

Outcome:Successful

Description:Tasini v. The New York Times et al. was the first digital copyright case decided by the United States Supreme Court. The case involved the question of whether articles written by freelance writers could be copied and incorporated into on-line databases and CD-ROMS without the freelance authors' permission. The freelance writers claimed that such activities constituted copyright infringement. The defendants - including newspaper and magazine publishers and database producers - claimed that they had a statutory privilege to use the works. All they were doing, the defendants argued, was reproducing their print collective works in digital format. The District Court ruled in defendants' favor on the issue. The Second Circuit reversed, and the United States Supreme Court, like the US Court of Appeals, ruled in the freelance writers' favor. Several class actions piggybacked on this decision and continue to this day. In March of this year, the US Supreme Court confirmed my view that a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over copyright infringement claims even if they concern "unregistered" works.