Anyone who violates copyright does so at their own peril.
On Friday, I filed 396 claims for a class-action settlement brought against a number of publishers for posting my articles (and others') online and in databases without the writers' consent. This is an $18 million settlement that has already been negotiated, and the money comes directly from the publishers who violated our copyright.
I wrote over 400 articles throughout the '80s and early '90s for a wide array of publications, and our contracts rarely mentioned database rights or online rights; in fact, when the issue of alternative uses of those articles came up, I specifically excluded alternative uses.
When, around 1989 - '95, the Internet became a mass market and newspapers and magazines started seeing that they could make money online, they began posting articles online without going back to renegotiate with writers. Writers protested (including the Authors Guild, cited in another post), but the publications said, "Take us to court."
Well, we did take them to court: The Authors Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (of which I was an officer), the National Writers Union, and others. The publications stalled the case in court for over 10 years, misusing the legal system with their expensive lawyers fighting against our pro bono lawyers.
Then in 2001, we won The Precedent, which was Tasini v. New York Times, et al. The current class-action suit of which I am a part is an outgrowth of the Tasini case.
And happily for me, there will be more settlements because the Internet is chock full of violations. I've heard talk of suing Google, and I believe they will regret their current violations. And I will be laughing all the way to the magic store....