10 January 2010

Ursula K. Leguin resigns Authors Guild

And the legendary fantasy writer's reasons for doing so should be of extreme interest and urgency to pretty much anyone out there who now or ever has cuddled close to the fast-fading fantasy of making money from the printed word.

This new "Inter-net" thing you may have heard the kids rapping about is a wonder: all the information and text of the world, available 24/7 for free on pretty much any computer anywhere.

Huge companies like Google racing to continue to convert every piece of visual information -- words, drawings, photos -- to digital form which might then be rammed down the wire or radio waves to anyone wanting that info.

Libraries will no longer need to invest in monstrous collections of books and magazines and journals and newspapers and microfiche copies of such, instead now free merely to subscribe to streams of ever-expanding collections of digitized material.

But what about the lowly authors in this? What happens when suddenly there is no incentive for anyone to actually purchase copies of their work -- when any book that previously needed to be "purchased" can now just be downloaded from some online archive? What happens when Google is actually granted free rein to ignore issues of copyright and to start scanning copies of existing books and turn those loose onto the uncontrollable 'net, with no royalties or restitution to the creators?

That's exactly what's already going on, and (like many) Le Guin is rightly upset -- so much so that she's now resigned from the Author's Guild which negotiated with Google on this unprecedented land grab of of intellectual property. Le Guin is not content merely to voice her discontent on her blog -- she's actually collecting "signatures" from other published authors who share her disappointment and anger at the Guild's decision (published authors be sure to add your names on her site).

If you're a published author or wish to be one (or have a scintilla of respect for those poor pathetic souls cursed by such aspirations), this is a truly terrifying development, and you need to understand it -- NOW -- and speak your peace while there's a snowball's chance of it still mattering.


BookViewCafe.com: Le Guin On The Google Settlement

UrsulaKLeGuin.com: "My letter of resignation from the Authors Guild"

(And thanks to Pooks for her post which brought this to my attention: Ursula Is Rallying The Troops!)

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