US Author’s Guild Announces Copyright Infringement Agreement With Hungarian Magazine

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

‘Galaktika has agreed to pay each author whose work it infringed for compensation,’ according to the Authors Guild’s statement on a long-running complaint. The deal promises claim assistance for authors and estates.

Cover art from Budapest’s Galaktika

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Lists of Those Owed To Be Publicized

An agreement was announced on July 21 between the Authors Guild—working with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SWFA)—and the publisher of Galaktika, a Hungarian science fiction magazine.

According to a statement released to the press, the magazine for years had reprinted stories by US and UK science fiction writers without permission.

“Under the terms of the agreement,” the Authors Guild’s statement reads, “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 guild’s news release says that it, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, literary agents, and authors have worked to hold the Budapest-based magazine “accountable for reproducing copyrighted works in print and online issues of the magazine in violation of the authors’ rights.”

In detailing the successful cooperative effort, the guild says that it began in autumn 2016 when literary agent and attorney Jonathan Lyons of Curtis Brown (the US agency of that name) raised the matter to the Guild’s attention.

In a prepared statement, guild executive director Mary Rasenberger is quoted, saying:

Mary Rasenberger. Image: Beowulf Sheehan

“It quickly became clear that a collective response from the author community was needed to fully address the problem. The Authors Guild exists to take action in situations like this.”Metropolis Media was an open and attentive negotiating partner. We’re confident that it will address individual claims honestly and in good faith.

“While ignorance of the law is not an excuse, Metropolis’ willingness to compensate the authors whose rights were violated and to respect authors’ rights going forward is a step in the right direction.

“The Authors Guild will keep an eye on Metropolis Media to ensure that it abides by the terms of the agreement and fairly treats authors whose works they have used and will use in the future.”

‘A Benchmark for Transparency’

What’s being announced today does not cover any individual author’s or estate’s settlement, “but sets a benchmark for transparency and gives individual authors leverage in pursuing their claims.”

Only when all outstanding individual claims by authors against Metropolis have been settled, the guild says, will it be released from “claims of infringement that the Authors Guild and SFWA might bring.”

“To that end, SFWA will be publicizing the list of authors and estates that are owed money and contacting them individually when possible.”

The guild says that the magazine’s ownership has provided “a list of all unauthorized stories that appeared in Galaktika’s past issues. It also confirmed its commitment to seek permission before publishing copyrighted works in the future and to remove all infringing works from their online media.

“Most importantly,” the statement says, “the agreement legally obligates Metropolis to offer a reasonable fee for each infringed work, to be agreed in good faith individually with those authors whose works were infringed in Galaktika.”

Speaking for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the association’s president, Kat Rambo, is quoted, saying, “In today’s complex publishing world, the writers often get overlooked. SFWA is pleased to be working with the Authors Guild in order to represent the interests of writers and defending their rights.”

The guild offers instructions for authors and/or estates with claims of copyright infringement by Galaktika. They are to contact Katalin Mund at mund.katalin@gmail.com, while members of the Authors Guild can also contact the organization at staff@authorsguild.org for assistance in negotiating settlements. In addition, SWFA wants to hear from members who believe that Galaktika is not living up to its agreement to abide by terms of the agreement.

Galaktika has existed in two phases. The original publication was produced  in 175 numbered editions from 1972 to 1995. The magazine’s  backgrounder says that during that stage, there were 2,257 short stories published.

The current magazine began publishing under the direction of Istvan Burger in 2004, picking up with Issue No. 176 under Metropolis Media. Today, according to the magazine, the edition numbers exceed 300.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.