The US is proposing changes to its copyright legislation that affects YOU:

>The message below was sent today to members of the National Writers Union.
>We encourage writers, photographers, and other creators from the UK and
>other countries to submit comments to the U.S. Copyright Office. Please
>endorse the comments submitted by the NWU and the Illustrators
>of America, and let the U.S. Copyright Office know that “orphan works”
>legislation would be a breach of your rights under the Berne Convention.
>——- Forwarded message follows ——-
>Date sent:  Fri, 22 Feb 2013 08:00:44 -0500 (EST)
>From:       NWU President Larry Goldbetter <>
>Send reply to:
>Subject:    Opposition to Orphan Works Laws
>Tell the U.S. Copyright Office you oppose “orphan works” laws that let
>others use your written work without your permission!
>An “orphan works” law sounds reasonable: People who can’t locate a
>copyright holder of a work after a diligent search would be free to use,
>copy, or even publish the work for a fee or for free.
>But it’s not that simple. What constitutes “diligent”? What if a writer
>marries and changes her name? What if you publish under a pseudonym? What
>if you don’t tell anyone when you retire to Tahiti? Would you be able to
>collect damages if you find out years later that your work had been used
>without your knowledge or permission?
>The what-ifs continue: What about an article or poem published long ago in
>a magazine? If a library has a copy in its collection and can’t find the
>publisher — maybe it’s out of business – the library can call it an
>”orphan,” scan it, and publish the entire article or poem on the web.
>That book you wrote that’s been out of print for years, but that you have
>reissued as an e-book? If someone can’t find the original publisher, they
>could call it an “orphan” and bring out their own new edition to compete
>with yours without paying you. So much for your ability to resell or
>republish your backlist!
>That story that was posted on your blog or that was plagiarized on some
>other website? Google probably collected a copy of it as soon as it was
>online. Do you register your blog posts every day with the Copyright
>Office? Of course not. Then if an “orphan works” law passes, Google and
>other search engines and Web archives can claim that since they can’t
>your website in the Copyright Office records, everything on it is
>”orphaned” – and they will be allowed to distribute copies from their
>files with their ads for their profit.
>If this sounds crazy, it is. But France and the European Union recently
>passed laws like this, and the UK is considering one. The U.S. Congress
>came close to passing a law like this in 2008, and it has ordered the
>Copyright Office to consider this idea again.
>The National Writers Union submitted a lengthy document to the Copyright
>Office on Feb. 4 outlining why any U.S. “orphan works” law must protect
>writers’ and other creators’ rights:
>Now we need members and other writers to support the NWU position during
>the Copyright Office comment period that ends March 6. Your comments will
>make a valuable contribution to the record when Congress considers this
>You can submit comments by filling out the form at
>and attaching your letter as a file. The NWU has prepared a sample letter
>below, but please feel free to add your own comments. The letter is also
>posted on the NWU Book Division website, where you’ll find the NWU’s
>comments and more information bout this and related issues:
>** Please use the letter below as an
>example **
>Maria Pallante, Register of Copyright
>U.S. Copyright Office
>Library ofCongress
>Submit electronically at
>Re: Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
>(FR Doc. 2012-25932; Copyright Office Docket Number 2012-12)
>Dear Ms. Pallante:
>I endorse the comments submitted to the Copyright Office by the National
>Writers Union.
>As a working writer, I oppose any “orphan works” legislation that permits
>use of my work without my knowledge or permission merely because someone
>claims they were unable to identify or locate me or any person or entity
>that they thought held certain rights to my work.
>Any such legislation would violate my economic and moral rights. For
>writers outside the U.S., such a law would violate rights guaranteed by
>the Berne Convention and other treaties.
>I am especially concerned that proposals for “orphan works” legislation
>fail to take into consideration the realities of working writers’ lives
>and the difficulties we face in enforcing our rights so that we can earn
>living from our writing. I believe that work to which I hold some or all
>rights could be deemed “orphaned,” despite the fact that I am still
>attempting to earn money from it, including in ways that are not
>in publishers’ or libraries’ records. Copies of my work made available
>under an “orphan works” law -especially those made available for free by
>noncommercial entity – would unfairly compete with and destroy the value
>of my rights.
>Before the Copyright Office or Congress considers any “orphan works”
>legislation, I urge you to hold hearings to learn from writers and other
>creators about how such a law would affect us. No “orphan works”
>legislation should be considered unless it respects the rights of
>——- End of forwarded message ——-
>Edward Hasbrouck
>Co-Chair, Book Division
>National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981, AFL-CIO)

Proctologists of the Caribbean

One of the challenges of a digital landscape is being discovered.  Betjeman’s ideal of people standing around the water-cooler discussing what they all watched last night on the BBC is long gone.  There’s just loads of stuff everywhere.

A current buzz-word is ‘bundling’.  We’re used to this in music concerts, where they slip something obscure into a programme that also contains known crowd-pleasers.  Now, books, programmes and films are being also sold as bundles.

With books, we had the old 3-for-2 deal at Waterstones, where you could make your own experimental choice.  Where we’re offered bundles chosen by someone else, what will they choose for us?  And – as agents and writers – how can we get our cool but less-well-known stuff included?

Two possible answers are: write stuff that is quite like something else (‘If you enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll love Proctologists of the Caribbean!’).  Or, write something cult-y (‘We’ve got to sell this somehow!’).

This may be idealistic of me, but I think it’s got to come down to good writing.  If a producer, publisher, sales agent or retailer is going to think about what to bundle something with, they’re going to choose something they feel deserves a wider audience.

Time will tell…bundles