Wednesday News: a new Authors Alliance, writing reviews without litigation, homogenizing and “othering” Africa, and another 19th C marriage manual
Founder of Just-Launched Authors Alliance Talks to PW – Into the mammoth-sized vacuum created by the current leadership of the Authors Guild comes a new organization called the Authors Alliance. Set to launch on May 21st, this organization, founded by Pamela Samuelson, UC Berkeley Professor of Law, is setting itself apart from the Guild right off the bat by indicating that it would not have filed suit against Google as the Guild did. Instead, the Alliance is focusing on how to help authors better negotiate the changes and opportunities presented by new digital technologies. Although it seems to have an academic foundation, I don’t think the organization’s goals are set that narrowly, at least not based on the interview with Peter Brantley Samuelson gave.
The Authors Alliance has both inward facing and outward facing roles. The inward facing role is to provide authors with information about copyrights, licensing agreements, alternative contract terms, the pros and cons of open access, the reversion of rights, and the termination of transfer. A lot of people who have works from 10 or 15 years ago that they want to make more widely available don’t necessarily know that much about copyright and licensing. In other words, “What are the options, how do you talk to your publisher about them, and what can you try to negotiate for?” We also seek to take advantage of the opportunities of networked digital environments that were not in place 10, 15, or 20 years ago when a lot of the works that authors want to make available were originally published. –Publisher’s Weekly
Here’s how not to get sued when reviewing online products – This is a pretty good piece from Ars Technica on writing a product review without making the kinds of common errors that put you in the sights of someone’s legal team. The piece was inspired by the now infamous Mediabridge cease and desist letter, but the post cites several recent examples of reviewers who have been threatened with legal action following negative reviews. Although not exhaustive nor constitute of actual legal advice, there are some good principles here, especially with concern to libel and defamation law more generally.
And given how much commerce takes place online these days and the importance of online product reviews to help guide shoppers to the right products, we think this topic is ripe for further consideration.
It’s not an academic debate, either. There’s an increasing frequency of legal quarrels over online product reviews, so would-be reviewers should be aware of possible legal implications of their actions. –Ars Technica
The reason every book about Africa has the same cover—and it’s not pretty – A great piece on the ubiquitous acacia tree cover adorning books set in the enormous, diverse continent of Africa. My only wish is that it had been a longer and more in depth analysis, but nonetheless it’s an important conversation starter.
Last week, Africa Is a Country, a blog that documents and skewers Western misconceptions of Africa, ran a fascinating story about book design. It posted a collage of 36 covers of books that were either set in Africa or written by African writers. The texts of the books were as diverse as the geography they covered: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique. They were written in wildly divergent styles, by writers that included several Nobel Prize winners. Yet all of books’ covers featured an acacia tree, an orange sunset over the veld, or both. –Quartz
13 Tips for Landing a Wife (in the 19th Century) – Methodist Minister self-published The Marriage Guide for Young Men: A Manual of Courtship and Marriage in 1883, and it’s an amazing repository of relationship wisdom. I’m not sure which tip is my absolute favorite, but the first one is pretty good:
Whenever you see a woman with a good, full, round back head, combined with a good front, you may be sure that she is capable of giving a good degree of energy and pluck to her children; and better still, that full back head denotes that she is well sexed, capable of loving husband and children devotedly, and capable of giving her children a good sexual endowment –Mental Floss