In theory, digital networks make it easy for authors to share their work with readers far and wide. In practice, writers sometimes don’t know what they’re allowed to do with their own books and articles.
What’s permitted under the terms of their publishing contracts, some of which were signed long before digital distribution? Who controls work that’s gone out of print? How can writers balance the desire to reach many readers with the need to earn income, meet tenure-and-promotion expectations, or both?
A new nonprofit group wants to help authors understand all of their options. Called the Authors Alliance, it’s led by several academics and writers, including Pamela Samuelson, a professor of law and information at the University of California at Berkeley. She has long been a major voice in copyright discussions and has been a moving force behind friend-of-the-court briefs filed in closely followed copyright-infringement cases, including a lawsuit that pitted another authors’ group, the Authors Guild, against Google over its mass digitizing of books.
The new alliance is part of an attempt to develop a positive agenda around copyright, she says, and to arm writers, and perhaps policy makers, with information that will help them make decisions. <Read more.>