November 5, 2009
Victor S. Perlman, Esq., General Counsel, ASMP
firstname.lastname@example.org (215-451-2767 ext 207)
Eugene H. Mopsik, Executive Director, ASMP
email@example.com or (215-840-5897)
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
Phone: 215 451 2767
Philadelphia, PA… On November 4, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a ruling on a motion for reconsideration of the Court's earlier decision in the case of Authors Guild et al. v. Google, Inc. The effect of the decision is to exclude photographers and other creators of visual materials from participating in the settlement of the case, despite the fact that they had been part of the plaintiff class for over two years.
The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) believes that the Court's decision missed the basic truth that a settlement that excludes photographic and other visual materials is neither fair nor in the public interest. If allowing photographers and other visual artists to intervene would, as the Court stated, "put the entire settlement at risk," it is because, in ASMP's view, the settlement is fundamentally flawed and should not be approved by the Court. ASMP regrets that the Court did not recognize this unfairness and, instead, opted to deprive the visual arts community of the opportunity to participate in crafting a settlement that would have given the public access to complete books instead of textual materials only.
ASMP, together with several of its prominent members and joined by the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, and the North American Nature Photography Association, had earlier filed objections to the recently withdrawn proposed settlement of the class action litigation brought by the Authors' Guild against Google arising out of its unauthorized copying of millions of copyrighted books. As ASMP pointed out, photographers and other visual artists would be entirely excluded from the proposed settlement, even though they were included in the class of plaintiffs during much of the litigation and should have had their interests represented during the settlement negotiations. ASMP further objected that photographers and other visual artists would be adversely impacted by approval of an unprecedented settlement that would have a chilling effect on the rights of small copyright owners to obtain fair value for their copyrighted works.
Because the legal standing of creators of visual works in the litigation was unclear, ASMP also formally asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for permission to intervene in the class action litigation filed by the Authors' Guild against Google. Following the Court's denial of that motion, ASMP filed a motion for reconsideration. It argued that photographers and visual artists should not have been excluded from the settlement despite having been part of the plaintiff class for more than two years. The Court has instructed the parties to the litigation, namely the authors, publishers and Google, to submit a revised settlement proposal to the Court for its consideration by November 9, 2009.
ASMP and its sister organizations are currently evaluating their options and will make a decision in the near future whether or not to appeal the Court's ruling.
Founded in 1944, ASMP is the premier trade association for the world's most respected photographers. ASMP is the leader in promoting photographers' rights, providing education in better business practices, producing business publications for photographers, and helping to connect purchasers with professional photographers. ASMP has 39 chapters across the country and its 7,000 members include many of the world's foremost photographers. More information is available at www.asmp.org.
The Graphic Artists Guild is a national artists union that embraces creators at all levels of skill and expertise, who create art intended for presentation as originals or reproductions. The mission of the Guild is to promote and protect the economic interests of its members,
to improve conditions for all creators and to raise standards for the entire industry. Its core purpose is to be a strong community that empowers and enriches its members through collective action. More information at www.graphicartistsguild.org.
Founded in 1951, PACA, the Picture Archive Council of America, represents the vital interests of image archives of every size, from individual photographers to large corporations, who license images for commercial reproduction. PACA leads advocacy, education, and communication efforts on copyright and standard business practices that affect the image licensing industry. More information at www.pacaoffice.org.
NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association, is the first and premiere association in North America committed solely to serving the field of nature photography. More information at www.nanpa.org.