Monday, April 08, 2013

Author Scott Turow argues that the erosion of copyright is a real threat to literature


Critics of copyright law should probably peruse the op-ed by novelist Scott Turow on p. A19 of Monday’s New York Times, “The Slow Death of the American Author”, link here
   
Turow notes that authorship is the only profession with actual constitutional protection (something I may have noticed fifteen years ago in connection with my first book).  But he is certainly critical of a culture that expects content for free, or of companies that want to make (what he sees as) easy profits off of authors.
  
He notes that major publishers are offering limited royalties on e-books, and he is critical of the Google books project, which has defended litigation from the Author’s Guild (of which he is president) since 2004,  He is also critical of Amazon’s e-book reselling concept. 
  
It’s worthy of note that the Authors Guild (the last time I looked) only allowed membership to writers who actually make a living from authorship with advances, not to self-publishers. 
  
That observation would fit the tension he notices between the genuine needs of authors to make a living at it (which isn’t true of all writers – adding to the tension) and of academics and pundits to advance their careers by extensive reworking of the work of others.
  
I wasn’t aware that in Europe public libraries actually pay royalties a slight cut when their books are borrowed.  (See my posting Feb. 23).  

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