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Rehearing in Freelancer Copyright Case

Posted Sep 4, 2007 6:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has agreed to rehear a case that considers whether freelance writers have rights to stories published in a magazine’s exact reproduction in digital CD-ROM format.

The decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case en banc could reinstitute a conflict with another federal appeals court, according to the Fulton County Daily Report.

In June, an 11th Circuit panel ruled against a freelance writer suing National Geographic for copyright infringement, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Tasini v. New York Times effectively overruled a prior panel ruling in the case.

The appeals court said in the opinion (PDF) known as Greenberg II, that the Supreme Court implied in Tasini that magazines may reproduce collective works such as microfilm that preserve the original format. National Geographic’s CD-ROM reproduction did just that, the court ruled, so freelancer Jerry Greenberg could not pursue a copyright claim.

The New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a freelancer in a similar case.

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