How Out Of Touch Is The Copyright Office? It Thinks The Authors Guild Is The 'Leading' Advocate For Writers' Interests
from the not-mine dept
The Copyright Office is pleased to host a Copyright Matters discussion about the history and future of the professional author on December 11 at 3 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. The event, occurring on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of The Authors Guild, the nation's leading advocate for writers' interests, will feature Guild president, author Scott Turow, as the keynote speaker. Other speakers include author and past Guild president Robert K. Massie; John Y. Cole of the Library's Center for the Book; and book market analyst Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group. Also present will be guest authors Roy Blount, Jr., Katherine Neville, Mary Pope Osbourne, Nick Taylor, and others. The event is free and open to the public. See www.copyright.gov/copyrightmatters.html.Except, of course, that's not even close to true. The Authors Guild represents a very tiny sliver of "writers." It currently has about 9,000 members, and famously only realized that self-published authors count as authors... a few months ago. Look, if copyright only covered works that were officially registered with the Copyright Office, perhaps they'd have a point in claiming that the AG represents writers. But that's silly. Due to ridiculous expansion of copyright laws in the US and around the globe (much of which the Copyright Office gleefully supported), everything that people write that has even a tiny modicum of new/creative elements is automatically covered by copyright. That includes the email you just sent and the scribble your toddler just drew on a piece of paper.
Somehow, I don't see the Authors Guild watching out for those "writers" interests.
What about me? I make my living writing -- but I see the Authors Guild as an out of touch organization run by luddites working hard to limit and hinder innovation because they're confused and scared of technology -- mainly how it creates more competition for their special club which doesn't want too many members. This is the same organization that argued that having a legally purchased ebooks read aloud violated their copyrights. The same organization that has sued libraries for scanning books to make them available for people to read in digital form. The same Authors Guild who has argued that the future of books is... brick and mortar stores. The same Authors Guild who (seriously) argued that Shakespeare wouldn't survive in the modern era since no one respects copyright any more (ignoring that there was no copyright in Shakespeare's time, and he did okay).
The Authors Guild isn't representing 99.999% of all "writers." And it certainly doesn't seem to be advocating for writers' interests, considering that it's fought against some of the best new technologies for creating, distributing, promoting and monetizing writers' works today.
Of course, we know what this is really about. The Copyright Office is still living in a time in the past, where it gets to fetishize a small cadre and closed off "club" of top professionals, ignoring that the rules and laws they seek to pass to protect that club against innovation and competition, also have massive negative impacts on the vast majority of content creators who aren't members of that tiny club. The Authors Guild may do wonderful things for a small group of authors who don't want to change with the times, but I don't see how that's a particularly beneficial service. It seems like a mistake. And the Copyright Office celebrates this?