Authors Guild

The Authors Guild is America's oldest and largest professional organization for writers and provides advocacy on issues of free expression and copyright protection. Since its founding in 1912 as the Authors League of America, it has counted among its board members notable authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including numerous winners of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards. It has over 9,000 members,[1] who receive free legal advice and guidance on contracts with publishers as well as insurance services and assistance with subsidiary licensing and royalties.[2]

The group lobbies at the national and state levels on censorship and tax concerns, and it has initiated or supported several major lawsuits in defense of authors' copyrights. In one of those, a class-action suit claiming that Google acted illegally when it scanned millions of copyrighted books without permission, the Authors Guild lost on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Recently the Authors Guild has fought the consolidation of the publishing industry through the mergers of large publishers, and it has pressed the publishers to increase royalty rates for ebooks.[3][4]

Authors Guild
Authors Guild Logo 2017
Legal status501(c)(6) organization[1]
HeadquartersNew York, New York
Formerly called
Authors League of America


The original Authors League of America was organized with headquarters in New York City in order "to protect the rights of all authors, whether engaged in literary, dramatic, artistic, or musical competition, and to advise and assist all such authors".[5] In 1921, the Dramatists Guild of America split off as a separate group to represent writers of stage and radio drama. Past presidents of the Authors Guild have included the novelists Pearl S. Buck, Rex Stout and Madeleine L'Engle, the biographers Anne Edwards and Robert Caro, the journalists Herbert Mitgang and J. Anthony Lukas, and the historians William Shirer and Robert Massie. In 2017, the guild's members elected James Gleick as president and Richard Russo as vice president.

Freelancers suit

In June 2014, the guild announced final approval of an $18 million settlement of a class-action suit it brought in 2000, along with the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Writers Union and 21 freelance writers. The suit claimed that major electronics databases such as Lexis-Nexis had violated the rights of thousands of freelancers. Their work had originally appeared in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times and Time magazine and had then been resold to the databases without the writers' permission.[6]

The publishers had argued that the databases constituted a fair "revision" of the original print articles, but the United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2001 that the writers must be compensated for their digital rights.[7] Further litigation and negotiation led to a settlement that will provide payments to the freelancers of up to $1,500 per article.[8]

Conflict with Google

On September 20, 2005, the Authors Guild, together with Herbert Mitgang, Betty Miles and Daniel Hoffman, filed a class action lawsuit against Google for its Book Search project.[9] According to the Authors Guild, Google was committing copyright infringement by making digital copies of books that were still in copyright. (Google countered that their use was fair according to US copyright law.)

On October 28, 2008 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and Google announced that they had settled Authors Guild v. Google. Google agreed to a $125 million payout, $45 million of that to be paid to rightsholders whose books were scanned without permission. The Google Book Search Settlement Agreement allowed for legal protection for Google's scanning project, even though neither side changed its position about whether scanning books was fair use or copyright infringement. The Settlement also would have established a new regulatory organization, the Book Rights Registry, which would be responsible for allocating fees from Google to rightsholders.

The settlement between the Authors guild and Google was rejected in 2011 by a judge at the district court level, who thought the settlement was not in the authors best interest.[10]

In October 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with Google citing fair use and that the scanned and posted excerpts works does not harm the authors by having parts of the books online.[11]

In late December 2015, the Authors Guild filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court against Google in their long-standing battle over whether copyright laws allows for the search engine to scan and post excerpts from books for the Google Books service,[12] which in April 2016 declined to review the case, leaving the lower court's decision standing.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b "GENERAL COUNSEL JOB, THE AUTHORS GUILD INC". The Copyright Society of the USA. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  2. ^ "Authors Guild". Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  3. ^ Doreen Carvajal (1998-04-27). "Authors Guild Tries to Block Proposed Merger of 2 Publishers". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "The Ebook Royalty Mess". The Authors Guild. 2011-02-11. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  5. ^ "Authors' League Launched". The New York Times. 1912-12-17.
  6. ^ Felicity Barringer and Ralph Blumenthal (2001-03-19). "Big Media v. Freelancers: The Justices at the Digital Divide". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Linda Greenhouse (2001-06-25). "Court Sides with Freelancers in Electronic Rights Case". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Copyright Class Action Settlement Website". Copyright Class Action Settlement Website. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  9. ^ "FAQs". Google Book Settlement. Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  10. ^ Taglioli, Dan (2011-03-23). "Federal judge rejects Google Books settlement". Jurist. Legal News and Research Services, Inc. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  11. ^ Mullin, Joe (2015-10-16). "Appeals court rules that Google book scanning is fair use". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  12. ^ Tsukayama, Hayley (2015-12-31). "The Authors Guild files to take Google to the Supreme Court". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  13. ^ Liptak, Adam (April 18, 2016). "Challenge to Google Books Is Declined by Supreme Court". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2016.

External links

Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

Authors Guild v. Google is a copyright case litigated in the United States. It centers on the allegations by the Authors Guild, and previously by the Association of American Publishers, that Google infringed their copyrights in developing its Google Book Search database.

In late 2013, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin (sitting by designation) dismissed the lawsuit, and affirmed that the Google Books program meets all legal requirements for "fair use," in what Publishers Weekly called a "ringing endorsement" of Google. The Authors Guild appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit, in New York, which held oral arguments in late 2014. On October 16, 2015, the Second Circuit "rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law." The Authors Guild petitioned the US Supreme Court, which in April 2016 declined to review the case, leaving the lower court's decision standing.

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust

Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, 755 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2014), is a United States copyright decision finding search and accessibility uses of digitized books to be fair use.

The Authors Guild, other author organizations, and individual authors claimed that the HathiTrust Digital Library had infringed their copyrights through its use of books scanned by Google. A federal court ruled against the plaintiffs in October 2012, finding that HathiTrust's use was permissible under fair use. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Second Circuit, and were rebuffed in 2014. In an opinion by Barrington Daniels Parker, Jr., the Second Circuit largely affirmed the lower court's findings of fair use for accessibility and search, remanding only to consider whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue about library preservation copies. The remaining claims were settled on January 6, 2015.

Book Rights Registry

The Book Rights Registry is an entity to be founded as part of a settlement of the lawsuit between the Authors Guild and Google over the Google Books scanning project. The Registry will be initially funded by $34.5 million from Google but it will be an independent, not-for-profit organization that collects and disburses revenue from third party users of content (e.g. Google Book Search) to authors, publishers and other rightsholders. According to the Settlement Agreement, the Registry will own and maintain a rights information database for all books (and parts of books) covered by the Agreement and their authors and publishers. It will also resolve disputes between rightsholders.

Michael Healy, the current head (as of September 2009) of the Book Industry Study Group, is slated to become the new head of the Registry.Authors Guild president Roy Blount, Jr. described it as "the writers' equivalent of ASCAP."

Dramatists Guild of America

The Dramatists Guild of America is a professional organization for playwrights, composers, and lyricists working in the U.S. theatre market.Membership as an Associate Member is open to any person having written at least one stage play. Active Members are playwrights who have had at least one play produced in front of a paying audience or have had their work published by a major theatrical publisher. Student membership is also available for those enrolled in dramatic writing courses.The Dramatists Guild works to negotiate better contracts for playwrights in professional markets and offers recommendations for contracts in other markets. The Business Affairs division assists playwrights by reviewing contracts for productions and maintains a set of contracts for Guild members to use when licensing their work.The Dramatist is a bimonthly journal produced by the Dramatists Guild, which includes articles, interviews, and other information pertinent to playwrights.

Google Book Search Settlement Agreement

The Google Book Search Settlement Agreement was a proposal between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and Google in the settlement of Authors Guild et al. v. Google, a class action lawsuit alleging copyright infringement on the part of Google. The settlement was initially proposed in 2008, but ultimately rejected by the court in 2011. In November 2013, the presiding U.S. Circuit Judge dismissed Authors Guild et al. v. Google. On April 18, 2016, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal.

Google Books

Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print and by its codename Project Ocean) is a service from Google Inc. that searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and stored in its digital database. Books are provided either by publishers and authors, through the Google Books Partner Program, or by Google's library partners, through the Library Project. Additionally, Google has partnered with a number of magazine publishers to digitize their archives.The Publisher Program was first known as Google Print when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004. The Google Books Library Project, which scans works in the collections of library partners and adds them to the digital inventory, was announced in December 2004.

The Google Books initiative has been hailed for its potential to offer unprecedented access to what may become the largest online body of human knowledge and promoting the democratization of knowledge.

However, it has also been criticized for potential copyright violations, and lack of editing to correct the many errors introduced into the scanned texts by the OCR process.

As of October 2015, the number of scanned book titles was over 25 million, but the scanning process has slowed down in American academic libraries. Google estimated in 2010 that there were about 130 million distinct titles in the world, and stated that it intended to scan all of them.

Google litigation

Google has been involved in multiple lawsuits over issues such as privacy, advertising, intellectual property and various Google services such as Google Books and YouTube. The company's legal department expanded from one to nearly 100 lawyers in the first five years of business, and by 2014 had grown to around 400 lawyers. Google's Chief Legal Officer is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond


HathiTrust is a large-scale collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries including content digitized via the Google Books project and Internet Archive digitization initiatives, as well as content digitized locally by libraries.

Head writer

A head writer is a person who oversees the team of writers on a television or radio series. The title is common in the soap opera genre, as well as with sketch comedies and talk shows that feature monologues and comedy skits. In prime time series this function is generally performed by an executive producer, who may also be called the showrunner, as in some of the long series that have been produced since the late 20th century in the United States.

Janet Berliner

Janet Berliner, formerly Janet Gluckman (September 24, 1939 – October 24, 2012), was a Bram Stoker Award-winning author and served as president of the Horror Writers Association from 1997 to 1998. She was also a member of Authors Guild, the International Thriller Writers, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but moved to America with her husband in 1960. She became a citizen of the United States in 1966, and lived in Las Vegas.

Lewis Frumkes

Lewis Frumkes is an American educator, humorist and writer. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended a number of institutions such as New York University, Trinity College, Columbia University, and Pace University. He earned his B.A. and master's degree in English and philosophy from New York University

Frumkes currently holds memberships with the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of Science Writers, the Authors Guild, Harvard Club of New York, Mensa, the Authors League of America, and P.E.N.

Open Library

Open Library is an online project intended to create "one web page for every book ever published". Created by Aaron Swartz, Brewster Kahle, Alexis Rossi, Anand Chitipothu, and Rebecca Malamud, Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive and has been funded in part by a grant from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.

It provides access to many public domain and out-of-print books, which can be read online.

Orphan works in the United States

An orphan work is a copyrighted work whose owner is impossible to identify or contact. This inability to request permission from the copyright owner often means orphan works cannot be used in new works nor digitized, except when fair use exceptions apply. Until recently, public libraries could not distribute orphaned books without risking being fined up to $150,000 if the owner of the copyright were to come forward. This problem was addressed in the 2011 case Authors Guild et al. v. Google.

Roger Angell

Roger Angell (born September 19, 1920) is an American essayist known for his writing on sports, especially baseball. He has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker and was its chief fiction editor for many years. He has written numerous works of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism, and for many years wrote an annual Christmas poem for The New Yorker.He received a number of awards for his writing, including the George Polk Award for Commentary in 1980, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement in 2005 along with Umberto Eco, and the inaugural PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing in 2011.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and is a long-time ex-officio member of the council of the Authors Guild.He was named the 2014 recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on December 10, 2013.

Roy Blount Jr.

Roy Alton Blount Jr. (; born October 4, 1941) is an American writer, speaker, reporter, and humorist. He appeared as himself in Treme. He performs with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band composed entirely of writers. He is also a former president of the Authors Guild.

Stephanie Shaver

Stephanie Diane Shaver (born 1975) is an American fantasy writer and video game developer.

She sold her first professional short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress series when she was 13. Her work has also been featured in various Valdemar anthologies, edited by Mercedes Lackey.

She is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and has also been a member of the Authors Guild. She gives talks about being a professional writer at fan conventions such as Dragon*Con and Archon. She worked for over a year at Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, and worked on two "Fantasy Worlds" Festivals as part of the committee and the program book editor.

In 2009 Shaver moved from St. Louis, Missouri to California. In St. Louis, she had worked as a game designer for Simutronics, serving as lead designer on Hero's Journey and contributing to DragonRealms.

Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins (born August 10, 1962) is an American television writer and author, arguably best known as the author of The New York Times best-selling series The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games trilogy (which consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay).


In United States copyright law, transformativeness is a characteristic of some derivative works that makes them transcend, or place in a new light, the underlying works on which they are based. In computer- and Internet-related works, the transformative characteristic of the later work is often that it provides the public with a benefit not previously available to it, which would otherwise remain unavailable. Such transformativeness weighs heavily in a fair use analysis and may excuse what seems a clear copyright infringement from liability.

Writers Guild of America, East

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is a labor union representing film and television writers as well as employees of television and radio news.

The Writers Guild of America, East is affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, West. Together the guilds administer the Writers Guild of America Awards. It is an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists, the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, and the AFL–CIO.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.