Charles E. Petit, known to some readers of this blog from his own blog, Scrivener’s Error, has sent a letter to Judge Chin. He writes as an “involuntary, indirect member of the settlement class,” and raises two issues.
First, he attaches the Supreme Court’s recent Muchnick opinion, which he argues has “significant implications” for the settlement. In essence, post-Muchnick, the class of works that could be included in a settlement probably includes unregistered ones, which is broader than the settlement class. Petit thinks that this development calls into question the typicality of the representative plaintiffs and similar class-action procedural issues. I agree with Petit that Muchnick is an important new authority that the court should consider. But it doesn’t strike me as seriously likely to affect any of the major issues on the table.
Second, Petit complains about the badly formatted list of opt-outs. It was filed as a scanned PDF, the names are split across two columns, and the alphabetization is unhelpful (e.g. “Vonda N. McIntyre” is listed under “V” rather than “M”). Moreover, when a successor organization held copyrights and opted out — e.g. Avicenna Development Corporation opted out on behalf of Peter S. Beagle — only the organization’s name appears in the list, not the author’s. All of which is true, and annoying, but I’m forced to ask, so what? Perhaps there will be follow-on filings or discussion that sharpen the point.
All criticism aside, this is well worth reading as an outstandingly formatted letter. Petit uses multiple typefaces, a footer, and understated letterhead, all to good effect.