Friday, May 16, 2014

Authors Alliance

The first I heard of the Authors Alliance was the rather bitchy warning posted about them by the Authors Guild. I know very little about either group but as a former academic I don't appreciate being squished under that very broad brush they are using to attack TJ Stiles (whoever that is).

My overall impression is that I should probably give both groups a wide berth.  But if anyone out these is more familiar with just WTF this is all about--please share.

See also:


Matthew Wayne Selznick said...

I think you might have it backwards. The Authors Alliance didn't attack T.J. Stiles. He wrote a fear-mongering screed against the Authors Alliance (before they even opened their doors) and against academic writers.

For their part, the Authors Alliance has said over and over again that they predict many areas where they would work with the Authors Guild, and have extended the olive branch.

Unfortunately, Stiles broke it in half.

Emily Veinglory said...

My comment was that an official message from the Author's Guild (about which I knew approximately nothing) was emotive and leaned anti-academic. That is only "backward" if I am obliged to take sides and agree the other side is worse. Which I am not. This is me over in the corner deciding not to join either group until they learn to create messages that are calm and rational in nature, explaining how they will help me or the greater profession.

Michelle said...

The problem is that the Authors Alliance claims to have the best interests of authors in mind. However, founder Pam Samuelson has long supported (in writing) limiting the number of years an author can own the copyright to her own work, reducing an author's ability to seek legal redress when someone has plagiarized their work, and expanding safe harbor laws that allow piracy to flourish and allow companies like Google to make a lot of money off of pirated works. During the launch of the AA, advisory board member Brewster Kahle said that "hackers are feeling oppressed and under fire" because they aren't able to "repurpose" authors' original work as they see fit.

The Authors Guild embraces academic writers and counts many among its members, in addition to providing individual legal help to its members (which the Authors Alliance says it won't do), as well as Back in Print services (with the Authors Alliance also won't do).

The olive branch metaphor simply doesn't hold. Authors Alliance advisory board member Robert Darnton recently wrote a piece for the New York Review of Books lamenting the fact that Google and other corporations stand to lose billions of dollars of authors are able to retain their current copyright privileges. The radical anti-copyright agenda of the Authors Alliance founders and advisory board members is all in writing and very easy to find. Just search "Robert Darnton NYBR" or go to Samuelson's faculty page at UC Berkeley, which lists her publications.

Stiles was simply reacting to a very deceptive campaign on the part of the Authors Alliance to pretend it represents the best interests of all authors, when in reality it is about limiting copyright so that hackers (Kahle's words, not mine), Google (Darnton's words, not mine), and academics (Samuelson's words) can use authors' original works however they see fit without fairly compensating the authors.