from the how-big-a-deal-is-this? dept
In appealing the settlement, it was noted that many of the freelancers had not registered their copyrights. Now, as you hopefully know, you automatically get copyright on any new content as soon as it's set in tangible form, but if you decide to register it, it gives you additional privileges and remedies against infringement. In most cases, not having a registration greatly limits what you can do in terms of a lawsuit against infringement. So the issue in this lawsuit -- Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick -- became whether or not those unregistered stories (and their authors) could be covered by the settlement.
Copycense points us to the Supreme Court's ruling (pdf) which says that, contrary to what the Appeals Court had ruled, it is perfectly fine to include unregistered copyrights in the court's jurisdiction. While some are reporting that this means you no longer need to register to sue, I don't think that's what the ruling is actually saying. It simply says that just because you haven't registered, it doesn't mean that it's outside of the court's jurisdiction. So it sounds like this means that unregistered copyrights can get included in a settlement/class-action lawsuit like this one, but the holders of those unregistered copyrights might still have difficulty (or great limits) should they try to bring the lawsuit directly themselves. It would be great to get some of the copyright lawyers in the community here to weigh in as well.