A few years ago, in a famous case, the Supreme Court ruled that newspapers and magazines that put out CD-ROMs containing searchable databases of their archives violated the copyrights of freelance authors who never approved that their content be used that way. The publications were told they would need to pay the freelancers again to publish this kind of archive, which is a bit of a shame. The Court's argument was that this really was a "new" use of the content. This has scared off many publications from putting out electronic archives if it includes the work of freelancers from an age before electronic republishing rights were included in any contract. This has resulted in publishers putting out CD-ROMs that are annoying to use. Both National Geographic and the New Yorker tried to skirt the earlier ruling by publishing CD-ROMs that display the old magazines as scans of the magazine, rather than as searchable databases. You can't copy and paste the text. You can't jump easily from article to article or issue to issue. Basically, they've tried to make it act as much like the old magazine as possible, to fit in under the earlier ruling. However, some freelance writers still didn't like this and sued National Geographic. Both the federal court and the appeals court ruled against them, saying that republishing the scans was perfectly fine -- and now the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, meaning we can all look forward to other annoying to use CD-ROM archives of old publications -- at least until the copyright runs out on these articles (as if that will ever happen).
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