Authors Guild Vies for Worst Publicity of 2009 (and other news)
Remember Authors’ Guild? You know, the entity that hauled Google into court so that it could create a settlement agreement granting Google a copyright monopoly that it hadn’t had previously so that AG could get a tiny piece of the Google pie? Authors’ Guild, who allowed, as a part of the settlement terms that orphaned rights would be handled by Google by default despite AG knowing from its participation in Reed Elsevier v. Muchnik decided in the 2nd Circuit and thus binding on the Google settlement that settlements invovling unregistered copyrights could not be approved because the court lacked jurisdiction over them?
Anyway, Authors’ Guild engaged in another brilliant piece of legal scholarship by arguing that Amazon’s Text to Speech violated the “audio rights” of an author. (note, there are no audio rights, just a derivative right to public performances) This is now leading to some wonderful PR for Authors’ Guild as over 200 sight impaired individuals protested in front of Authors’ Guild headquarters yesterday. CNN iReporters picked it up. (Thank you Tourmaline). AG’s response? Basically that media is losing so much money going e, that they can’t afford to help out the blind. We’ll have more on this tomorrow from Maili, but suffice it to say that if business is about the battle over hearts and minds, Authors’ Guild (and anyone associated with AG) is losing that battle.
Joining AG’s in the battle for who can appear the worst in public is the Associated Press who wants people to stop linking to their content unless we start paying for it. I hope that the AP actually gets what it wants which is no referral traffic at all.
The New York Times did a fairly positive piece on romance. The most startling fact of this article was that in the fourth quarter, Harlequin had an increase of 32% in earnings over the same quarter last year. I was sad to see Ravenous Romance quoted as a romance epublisher given a) the dreck that Ravenous produces, b) that it doesn’t produce romance books but porn and c) their owner thinks that what they are publishing is porn with a better vocabulary (which she apparently doesn’t read). (I was quoted in the piece as well. Is that a disclaimer or bragging. Couldn’t tell and was tempted to leave that part out).
A publishing related group is trying to get the Patriot Act revised to “restore reader privacy that it believes was stripped away by the Patriot Act and in particular Section 215 which authorizes the issuance of secret search orders which permits the government to search the records of any person its believes could be relevant to a terrorist investigation. According to the memo, the Patriot Act eliminated safeguards protecting the confidentiality of the records of bookstore customers and library patrons, and has had a chilling effect on First Amendment right.”
Weirdly, Disney allowed the print rights to the book “Witch Mountain” to go unpurchased. Witch Mountain is the basis for the plot in the upcoming Dwayne Johnson movie “Race to Witch Mountain”. Sourcebooks was able to purchase those rights and plans the release of the book to coincide with Disney’s release of the DVD.