Federal Communications Law Journal

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52 Federal Communications Law Journal 749 (2000)


New electronic media-including CD-ROMs and online services such as LEXIS/NEXIS-offer new outlets to which traditional publishers can disseminate the content of their publications. Recently, in Tasini v. New York Times, freelance authors claimed that the publishing industry allegedly infringed their copyrights in the underlying works of authorship. In absence of express agreements to the contrary, the authors maintained that section 201(c) of the Copyright Act gives the publishers only the limited privilege of publishing an article as part of a "particular collective work, any revision of that collective work, and any later collective work in the same series" and that republication in electronic media does not fit within this definition. Publishers disagree and seek a more liberal interpretation of section 201(c). This Note examines the existing bases for interpreting the section 201(c) revision privilege with respect to electronic media, including the Act's plain language, legislative intent, and broader issues of public policy. This Note ultimately agrees with the Second Circuit Court of Appeal's reversal in Tasini, which held that that revision privilege does not include the unauthorized republication in certain electronic media (including NEXIS) and suggests a comprehensive analysis that supports the Copyright Act and the U.S. Constitution's policy goals of copyright incentive.