Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
On July 20, the Authors Guild
and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
announced that they had together reached an agreement with Hungary-based Galaktika Magazine.
For at least a decade, Galaktika
re-published stories by multiple authors without seeking permission or remitting payment. Galaktika
claimed that, since the stories had been published online, they were in the public domain--which is contrary to copyright law.
From the joint press release
Under the terms of the agreement, Metropolis Media, Galaktika’s publisher, promised to seek permission for any works they use in the future and to compensate the authors whose works were published without permission. Galaktika has agreed to pay each author whose work it infringed fair compensation, with the fee to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis....
The agreement comes as a result of efforts by the Guild, SFWA, literary agents, and authors to hold Galaktika’s publisher accountable for reproducing copyrighted works in print and online issues of the magazine in violation of the authors’ rights.
Complaints about non-payment by Galaktika
date back to at least 2006, and infringement complaints go back to at least 2012.
The problems didn't get wide exposure, however, until March 2016, when journalist Pintér Bence conducted an investigation for Mandiner Magazine
that found "blatant copyright infringement" of dozens of authors in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In the March 2016 edition, for instance, "of the five [English-language] authors published in the magazine, not a single one was informed of the publication; they had not consented, nor were they given royalty in exchange."
SFWA also became aware of the infringement in 2016, in part as a result of Bence's article, but also because of several complaints to the SFWA Grievance Committee and to Writer Beware. In September 2016, SFWA issued a statement on the situation
, formally recommending "that authors, editors, translators, and other publishing professionals avoid working with Galaktika
until the magazine has demonstrated that existing issues have been addressed and that there will be no recurrence."
SFWA and the Authors Guild joined forces in the fall of 2016, after literary agent Jonathan Lyons brought the problems to the Guild's attention.
The agreement, say the two organizations, "sets a benchmark for transparency and gives individual authors leverage in pursuing their claims." Metropolis Media won't be off the hook for infringement claims until all authors' claims have been settled to the organizations' mutual satisfaction. To assist with that, SFWA is making public a complete list of all authors who are owed money, and had not already come to an agreement with Galaktika
as of June 1, 2017.
The list will be online within a few days; I will link to it here. Alternatively, affected authors can request the details of the unauthorized publication(s), including the names of stories and publication date. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org