Writers Ask Congressional Authors: Do You Know What Google and the Authors Guild Want to Do with Your Copyright?

Jan 06, 2010, 15:02 ET from National Writers Union

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have written to their author peers in Congress, seeking their support in encouraging the Department of Justice to continue its opposition to the Google Books Settlement.

The Google Books Settlement is being negotiated between Google and several parties that sued it in 2007 for copyright infringement. Among those groups is the Authors Guild, which purports to represent the interests of all authors in the Settlement. In its letter to Congressional authors, the groups assert that their interests are not being fairly represented by the Authors Guild.

Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin's recent resignation from the Authors Guild highlights the growing tensions between the organization and its constituency. In her letter of resignation, Le Guin commented, "You decided to deal with the devil, as it were, and have presented your arguments for doing so. I wish I could accept them, but I can't. There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle."

In their letter, the author groups criticize the Settlement for the lack of notice to authors, the complexity in opting out, a new regulatory board that overrides individual contracts, the exception for publisher plaintiffs to have private side deals, the mockery of existing copyright law, and its attempt to supplant efforts to pass orphan works legislation.

"Opposition to this sweetheart commercial deal from the Department of Justice and nearly 400 other interested parties radically changed the course of this debate. However, the amended version of the settlement still creates a de facto monopoly for Google at the expense of all Americans," reads the letter. "The Constitution says copyright is essential and gives Congress responsibility for it, not Google and a gaggle of lawyers."

About the National Writers Union

With the combined strength of more than 1,500 members in 15 local chapters nationwide, and with the support of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), the NWU works to advance the economic and working conditions of writers. We do this by challenging the corporate media giants, lobbying Congress to pass legislation that protects the rights of writers, creating viable solutions to provide publishers fair alternatives to unfair practices, and educating and empowering our members.

About the American Society of Journalists and Authors

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation's leading organization of independent nonfiction writers. Our membership consists of more than 1,100 outstanding freelance writers of magazine articles, trade books, and many other forms of nonfiction writing, each of whom has met ASJA's exacting standards of professional achievement.

About Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world. Since its inception, SFWA(R) has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective genre writers' organizations, with a membership of approximately 1,500 professional science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals.

SOURCE National Writers Union