On Wednesday, March 28, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of The New York Times et al. vs. Tasini et al. (Docket No. 00-201). In September 1999, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York reversed a lower-court decision and ruled that it is copyright infringement for a publisher to put a freelancer's work online or reuse or resell it without explicit permission. The case is the landmark lawsuit, charging copyright violation, brought by Jonathan Tasini and members of the National Writers Union (NWU) against The New York Times Co.; Newsday, Inc.; Time, Inc.; Lexis-Nexis; and University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI; now Bell & Howell Information and Learning).
The presentation of oral arguments is the final chance for all parties to express their opinions to the Supreme Court in this matter of serious consequence for everyone in the publishing, library, and information industries. Information Today is obtaining a verbatim transcript of the arguments and hopes to have an observer present in court. Key officials of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) will be reviewing the proceedings for us and providing commentary and analysis. Our report on the appeal hearing will be posted as a NewsBreak on this Web site (http://www.infotoday.com) by Friday March 30. The AALL is one of the few library associations that has not taken a position in regard to the case and is viewed as a neutral and knowledgeable organization.
Extensive legal briefs were filed by both sides, including a number of "Amicus" filings by concerned organizations. The National Writer's Union (http://www.nwu.org) has posted the following briefs for the case on its site (as Adobe PDF documents).
The Writers' Brief (Respondents)
Amicus Brief — International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Amicus Brief — Historians
Amicus Brief — American Library Association & Association of Research Libraries
Amicus Brief — American Society Magazine Photographers (ASMP) et al
U.S. Copyright Office Position (From Congressional Record)
The Publishers' Brief (Petitioners)
Amicus Brief — Software & Information Industry Assoc. et al
Amicus Brief — Advance Publications et al
Amicus Brief — National Geographic Society
Amicus Brief — Ken Burns et al
Amicus Brief — American Intellectual Property Assoc.
For additional background information on the case, Carol Ebbinghouse, the legal columnist for Searcher, did an excellent overview in the January 2001 issue (http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/jan01/ebbinghouse.htm) that covered the issues and ramifications of the case from all perspectives: the authors, the publishers, the aggregators and search services, and the researchers.