Saturday, September 24, 2005

AUTHORS GUILD ALERT! Protect Your Books (But ... Shhhh ... Don't Tell Anyone Else)

If you're a shlub like me -- a mid-level journalist still trying to figure out if he can sell his first book some time before he has his fifth child -- then you should already know that you have an important stake in Tuesday's "fairness hearing" on approval of the UnSettlement.

But if you're a member of the Authors Guild ("For 90 years the Guild has been the authoritative voice of American writers ..." Scott Turow), as of yesterday you knew a good deal more.

That's because the Guild, a so-called associational plaintiff, issued a members-only memo telling book authors that they need to file claims if their books were excerpted. (The claims deadline is next Friday, September 30.)

So there's panic in AG land, whose general counsel was until recently Kay Murray (a "leader" of the settlement negotiations according to mediator Kenneth Feinberg), now a private-first-class counsel for the Tribune Company. All authors -- excuse me, all Authors -- who got the memo are scurrying about trying to figure out what they should file for. Their books? Their excerpts? (Not to worry: ASJA has assured one and all that the exercise takes "seconds.")

This week the Authors Guild filed a heavily hyped copyright lawsuit against Google. But the Authors Guild and the other class reps of the UnSettlement are trying to push through a hastily crafted amendment that releases Amazon, which like Google has search-inside-the-book technology.

One other thing. I almost forgot. If you didn't opt out by the September 12 deadline and you don't affirmatively deny future rights to the infringers by next Friday, then these upstanding citizens of cyberspace own your works forever. Someone has called that the License by Default. The Authors Guild has sued Google because Licenses by Default are very, very bad and threaten the very foundation of Western civilization.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irv, much thanks for all your work on this. I have a book. I have opted out. How does one deny future rights?

Don't even know how to begin to do this. Regards, shirley kwan

7:33 AM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

Shirley, we have downloadable Denial of Future Claims forms, in Word format, at:

9:14 AM  

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