TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Court Won't Hear National Geographic CD-ROM Case

Court Won't Hear National Geographic CD-ROM Case

Reuters News Wire (
Mon, 12 Dec 2005 12:28:17 -0600

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling that copyright law
authorized a publisher to reproduce a collective work in CD-ROM
format, even if some new materials have been added.

The justices declined to review a dispute involving National
Geographic magazine and whether it had to pay freelance writers and
photographers additional compensation for using their work in the
electronic compilation.

In 1997, the National Geographic Society began selling a CD-ROM set
containing digitally scanned copies of all past issues dating back 108

The 30-disc set depicted an exact electronic image of the original
bound magazines, with pages presented two at a time in the very same
sequence as in the original paper format. The user would see the
articles, photographs and advertisements exactly as they had appeared
in the original paper copies.

Numerous freelance writers and photographers sued for copyright
infringement and said they were entitled to additional compensation.

But a federal judge and U.S. appeals court in New York ruled against
the freelance contributors.

The appeals court ruled that the CDs represented an "electronic
replica" of the magazine and were a permissible "revision" under
copyright law, even if some new copyrightable materials, such as an
introductory sequence and a computer software program, had been added.

The freelance contributors appealed to the Supreme Court to hear the
case. But the justices rejected the appeal without any comment or
recorded dissent.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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