So, I’m an author. Not of fiction, which means I’m kind of invisible when it comes to author-related conversations. But I write books. And there’s this organization in the U.S. called the Author’s Guild, which represents what it considers to be the interests of authors. I am not a member.
Every time I read about the Author’s Guild weighing in on some or another author-related issue, I disagree with them. The Author’s Guild seems to be quite a reactionary group, and seems to value whatever it determines to be authors’ best interests over any other interests in every circumstance regardless of whether that position makes authors seem like assholes. I try very hard not to be an asshole.
Take the decision by a U.S. judge yesterday to dismiss the Author’s Guild’s lawsuit against Google for scanning books and making excerpts available online. I did a dance of joy when I read the news. I think Google Books provides an extraordinarily valuable service to the public. Extraordinarily valuable. And I have no reason to believe that I, as an author, am in any way harmed by it â€“ also, I’m a human being who personally benefits from being able to search Google Books. I applaud the courts for doing what few government organizations seem to do these days: value the public’s easy access to information.
The Author’s Guild, however, said, “We disagree with and are disappointed by the courtâ€™s decision today. This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the worldâ€™s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works.”
At the same time, the American Library Association applauded the decision. Since when is it cool for authors and libraries to be on opposing sides when it comes to access to books and information? I can’t seriously be alone in being inclined to side with libraries â€“ like, all the time libraries.
I wish there were an organization that represented authors like me â€“ authors who view limited copyright as a necessary aspect of the business of writing and creating, and who also value the public’s wide access to information and even the ability to riff off existing works to create new ones. I wish I could pay dues to an organization like that.
Is there such an organization that I just haven’t heard of? One that actually represents my needs and desires as an author? And am I the only author around who wishes for one? I sure hope I’m not.
[box] Updated 9/2015: Indeed, there is another organization that supports authors whose values are more in line with what I was desperate for when I wrote this post. It’s called Author’s Alliance, and I joined the day they launched.[/box]