posted by Doranna Durgin
So the hullabaloo is dying down, but that doesn't mean it's time to rest easy as writers--not even though scribd has pretty much changed its tune when it comes to responsiveness in removing stolen works, or that SFWA, at first inundated by snarling disapproval because of the mistakenly removed works caught in the initial removals, isn't now hearing a whole lot more from readers who fully understand and support a writer's need to control his or her rights.
Nope, the big picture clash of rights ownership vs. e-fringement activities is still playing out. And because there's been some confusion over SFWA's decision to readdress how it handles those e-fringement issues--mainly because the organization wants to proceed in the best possible fashion, and times have changed since the ball started rolling--President Michael Capobianco has issued a statement.
And here, as it happens, it is:
In light of recent events, I want to make a few things clear about where Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) stands.
SFWA isn't about to retreat from the fundamental principles on which our organization was founded. SFWA stands for the author's rights. The most fundamental author's right is the right to control who can make copies of his or her work. This includes the right to license works through Creative Commons, give them away, license them to publishers for money, or any other creative use that an author can devise. The author is the one that gets to choose how and when, no one else.
Many of us believe that it is inevitable that e-books will become the predominant way to buy and read books in the not too distant future. It may take many years or there may be a sudden sea-change. As yet, e-books represent a relatively small presence in commercial publishing, and we don't yet know how soon or how rapidly their popularity will grow. Most authors retain the copyright to their works and license them to publishers for a limited amount of time, and can sell and profit from them again. We're sf writers, our business is looking forward, and so we're doing our best to anticipate a future where e-books dominate the landscape, and to ensure that we'll still be around, telling stories -- and paying our bills -- when they do.
It is my firm belief that artistic endeavor can only flourish on the web and elsewhere if the creators control their work. Take away that control, and you cripple the potential of the future.
The current state of the law makes it far easier for copyright infringers to upload works illegally than for authors to protect their works from illegal distribution. Companies seeking to make a business out of providing user-provided content must be proactive, or they become repositories for these illegal copies.
We're at a tipping point. Who will own and profit from the content that drives the brave new digital world to come? Will it be corporations like Google, which is already showing its hand, making agreements with publishers and libraries that deny authors the right to choose? Will it be scribd.com and its ilk?
Or will it be the men and women who create the content: the artists and musicians and writers? I can assure you that SFWA will be in the forefront of the fight. ==============
Capo, as usual, does a good job of saying it for many of us.