NEW YORK, NY, AND BERKELEY, CA -- Calling all writers! If you've ever written anything that might be in the collection of a major library -- including authored books, anthology collections, essays and articles -- you might be affected by the latest proposed settlement of a lawsuit on copyright infringement involving the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and the owners of Google Book Search.
The National Writers Union is organizing two public meetings, in New York and in the San Francisco Bay Area, to update local writers on the pros and cons of the revised settlement pending before the courts.
The first of these is in New York City (Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 2 p.m., at 256 W. 38th St., 12th floor) and is a collaborative effort of the NWU, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), three writers groups that oppose the settlement.
In addition to representatives of the three writers' groups, the confirmed New York speakers list includes New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann, creator of the website about the lawsuit and the settlement proposals at ThePublicIndex.org; attorney, author and literary agent Lynn Chu, who served as co-counsel for the NWU, ASJA, and 58 individual authors who objected to the first settlement proposal; and Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, the proponents of the settlement.
The Bay Area forum is in Berkeley, CA (Friday, January 22, 2010, 7 p.m., 2070 Allston Way). Along with Edward Hasbrouck, co-chair of the Book Division of the NWU, confirmed speakers include U.C. Berkeley law school professor Pamela Samuelson, the initiator of a joint letter to the court by academic authors who object to the settlement, and attorney Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who represents authors who object to the proposed settlement on privacy grounds.
"All writers need to be fully aware of the settlement's provisions in order to make informed decisions," said NWU President Larry Goldbetter. "Writers have a second chance, regardless of whether you received official notice or what you did about the original settlement proposal. This is especially important with the new 'opt-out' date set for January 28."
Google has so far digitized more than 12 million books, using major research libraries like Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan, Oxford, and others, without getting the permission of a single author. The proposed settlement is the result of a class action suit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers five years ago.
Last November, as the case was about to be heard, the settlement was withdrawn in the face of over 400 objections from around the world, including the U.S. Department of Justice and Copyright Office. The new court date is February 18.
The National Writers Union (United Auto Workers Local 1981, AFL-CIO) is a national labor union and advocacy organization for freelance and contract writers in all genres, media, and formats. The NWU works to defend the rights and improve the economic and working conditions of all writers. The NWU's members include journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, Web site and email newsletter content providers, bloggers, academic writers, editors, poets, playwrights, and other writers.