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Wednesday News: a new Authors Alliance, writing reviews without litigation, homogenizing and “othering” Africa, and another 19th C marriage manual

Wednesday News: a new Authors Alliance, writing reviews without litigation, homogenizing...

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

Wednesday News: Beauty blogger’s work used without permission; Google Classroom debuts; Edgar Awards announced; Dear Author’s May Book Club selection

Wednesday News: Beauty blogger’s work used without permission; Google Classroom debuts;...

I’m A Blogger. Respect My Work. – London Beauty Queen, a blogger with more than 22,000 followers on Twitter, has had her images used without permission. We often talk about how bloggers need to be careful about using photos from sources that are not public domain, but now, with the rise of blogs to media prominence, we have the opposite problem. LBQ made a comment on Twitter regarding London Beauty Box’s use of an image from LBQ’s site without permission. London Beauty Box responded with a claim they didn’t know what she was talking about, and you can see the whole exchange, including LBQ’s purloined image. Even when bloggers don’t monetize their sites, they still have rights to the work they produce. In the US, anyone who produces a piece of work has copyright over that work automatically, whether or not they register it. Registration confers additional benefits, but it’s not required for copyright to attach.

I’ve had images taken from my site without permission and used by brands on their social media channels. I’ve had blog posts copied and pasted to other sites without consent. I’ve had brands and agencies demand I place their links, information or offer on my site – just because they want it there. I’ve had rude responses when I’ve asked for compensation for my time, such is the little value placed upon bloggers and blogging by some. I’ve battled with brands for payment when they changed the goalposts at the last minute. I’ve been asked to act unlawfully and illegally. You name it, I’ve experienced it… And it just isn’t right. –London Beauty Queen

Google Debuts Classroom, a Free Apps for Education Tool – Although Google has shut down Google+, they’ve now expanded into educational apps, including Google Classroom, an app that allows teachers to track students and assignments. The app can be used to create, distribute, and collect assignments; create folders and organize class materials, and make announcements to students, among other things. According to Nate Hoffelder,

I know that this tool might not sound like much, but this is the kind of tool that other ed tech companies are selling to schools for annual fees. Google, on the other hand, is simply going to give it away. It won’t even be supported by ads, and Google has also promised that they will never uses a school’s content or student data for advertising purposes. –The Digital Reader

The Edgar® Winners and Nominees – This year’s Edgar Awards for Mystery have been announced, and I have to say, it’s a male dominated winner’s field. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger won for best novel, and The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood snagged best paperback original. Erik Dussere won in the category of best critical/biographical for America is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture. The complete list of nominees and winners can be found at the Edgar website. –The Edgars

Dear Author Announces the May Book Club – In honor of the digital re-issuing of so much of Laura London/Tom and Sharon Curtis’s Romance, and the 30-year anniversary of their epic novel, The Windflower, Dear Author will be featuring that novel for our May 27th Book Club. Sunita and I will be providing a joint review of the book, and we are fortunate enough to have a Q&A with Tom and Sharon Curtis that, I must admit, serves as true fan girl moment for me. I have mad respect for the writing skills of the Curtises, and as you will se below, those of us who have enjoyed their previous books now have something else to look forward to:

1. Okay, let’s get the most important question out of the way first: what have you been doing in the years since you wrote your Romances, and are you planning to write any new books? What kinds of characters and stories interest you now?

In the years since we wrote romances, Tom has been working, driving his 18-wheeler. Sharon worked in bookstore management. Sharon cared for her mother while her mother was ill with lymphoma. We read lots, Tom went on long hikes with the dogs, we watched our children complete their education, start their professional lives, marry and begin families. We played with our grandchildren. Tom and the kids continue to perform Irish music in the family band. We were politically active. Sharon watched baseball. Tom went on three day bike trips with friends, which Sharon calls the tavern tours of northern Wisconsin due to the frequent enjoyment of libations along the way.

We are currently working on an urban fantasy. We like characters with vulnerabilities, psychological baggage, big hearts, a healthy sense of humor and a pronounced appetite for life. We like stories with adventure, humor, surprises and good outcomes. –Dear Author