Federal Writers’ Project

Congressional Democrats Ted Lieu (California) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (New Mexico) have introduced a new bill, “The 21st Century Federal Writers’ Project”, which proposes $60 million in funding to non-profit organizations, libraries, news organizations, and writing-related unions to sup­port writers who lost income during the pandemic. The proposed legislation is inspired by the Federal Writers’ Project from 1935, which employed thou­sands of writers during the Great Depression. One goal of ...Read More

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Beagle Regains IP

Peter S. Beagle and newly formed ownership group SHP, LLC have regained the rights to much of Beagle’s intellectual property in a sale recently approved by the US Bankruptcy Court.

Beagle filed a lawsuit against his former business manage, Connor Cochran, in 2015, winning a total of $332,500 in damages. Related lawsuits against the Avicenna De­velopment Corporation and Conlan Press, Inc., were stayed when Cochran filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for ...Read More

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Legal News, March 2021

The law firm of Hagens Berman is suing Amazon and the Big Five publishers in a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the publishers conspired with the online retailer to illegally fix ebook prices. Their initial complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York on January 14, 2021, and only named Amazon as a defen­dant, with Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster listed as co-conspirators. The ...Read More

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Foundry Lawsuit

Literary agency Foundry Literary + Media dissolved in September 2020, and some authors had trouble getting paid, with reports of checks bouncing as early as last No­vember The Authors Guild got involved, and some authors were subsequently paid by wire transfer, but others were not. The agency’s found­ers, Yfat Reiss Gendell and Peter McGuigan, split up to form their own separate agencies last year, YRG Partners and Ultra Literary.

Gendell ...Read More

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Legal News, January 2021

The litigation between Chooseco (which holds the trademark for “Choose Your Own Adventure” books) and Netflix regarding the latter’s interactive movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has ended. The two companies informed their judge in November 2020 that they’d reached a settlement, though terms were not disclosed. Chooseco argued that Netflix appropriated their protected imagery and terminology without permission.

While you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a ...Read More

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Amazon News, December 2020

The European Union’s European Commission is continuing its antitrust investigation of Amazon.com, announcing a “preliminary view that [Amazon] has breached EU antitrust rules.” The Commission alleges that the company engages in “the abuse of a dominant market position,” and that Amazon competes with the third-party sellers hosted on the site unfairly by using proprietary data. The Commission has opened a second investigation into whether Amazon gives illegally unfair treatment to ...Read More

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Legal News, December 2020

Former B&N CEO Demos Parneros has settled his lawsuit against the company. An agree­ment was reached less than a week before a planned pre-trial conference. The settlement terms were not disclosed, but each party will pay their own court costs and fees. Parneros sued for breach of contract and defamation of character in August 2018, and added additional claims later that year. He was fired on July 3, 2018 for ...Read More

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SFWA and Alan Dean Foster Press Conference

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and author Alan Dean Foster held a press conference November 18, 2020, claiming that Disney has been withholding payment for Foster’s work on Star Wars and Alien novelizations. According to their press release,

Foster was originally contracted to write the Alien novelizations by Titan Books, and the Star Wars novelizations by Lucasfilm. Both companies regularly paid his royalties. When The Walt ...Read More

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SFWA Releases Bud Webster Legacy Kit

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) released the Bud Webster Legacy Kit, a resource list to help writers protect their literary estates.

The Legacy Kit was created in honor of Bud Webster, a driving force behind the SFWA Estates Program. It includes a checklist of important documents, sample book inventories and tables, and a layman’s glossary of important terms in addition to explanatory articles on the relevant ...Read More

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Senators Against Cixin Liu

Following the announcement of a Netflix series based on Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, five Republican senators sent a letter objecting to the plans. The senators (Martha McSally of Arizona, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina), are troubled by comments Liu made in a New Yorker interview in 2019 that seemed to defend Chinese treatment of ...Read More

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Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust

J. Michael Straczynski announced that he was appointed executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust. He says,

Looking after all this, and seeing to Harlan and Susan’s wishes, is something I will likely be doing for the rest of my life.

Everything that Harlan ever owned, did or wrote will be fiercely protected. Steps are being taken to certify Ellison Wonderland as a cultural landmark, ensuring that it will ...Read More

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Barnes & Noble Legal News

Former Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros has failed in his defamation suit against the company. Judge Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil dismissed his claim, saying “there is no genuine dispute about the truth of the statement that Parneros was terminated for violations of the company policies.” The judge denied B&N’s motion for summary judgement on the good faith and fair dealing claim, however: “Parneros raises a triable question as to ...Read More

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ABA Board Changes

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has appointed Jake Cumsky-Whitlock of Solid State Books in Washington DC and Melanie Knight of Books Inc. in San Francisco CA to the board, to serve until board elections in April 2021. This follows changes to bylaws which “bring the number of board members to 13 (from 11) and that require the board to include at least four booksellers who are Black, Indigenous, or People ...Read More

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Internet Archive Demands Trial

The Internet Archive has demanded a jury trial in the lawsuit brought by four publishers alleging “willful mass copyright infringement” in the form of IA’s “National Emergency Library”, which of­fered unlimited borrows of over a million ebooks. The IA insists that fair use and the first sale doctrine make its actions lawful: “The Internet Archive’s [controlled digital lending] program is sheltered by the fair use doctrine, buttressed by traditional library ...Read More

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KISS Library Court Order

Ebook pirate site KISS Library re­ceived a temporary restraining order from Judge Marsha J. Pechman in Washington district court. The order was requested by Penguin Random House, Amazon Publishing, and members of the Authors Guild. The Ukraine-based company’s as­sets have been frozen insofar as possible, and their websites are already down. The plaintiffs allege the identities of those running the company have been deliberately hidden, and the judge ruled to ...Read More

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Internet Archive Suspends Lending

The In­ternet Archive ended their “National Emergency Library” program on June 16, 2020, two weeks earlier than planned, following lawsuits by four publishers. The suit, filed in New York federal court, alleges “willful mass copyright infringe­ment” and argues that, “despite the Open Library moniker, IA’s actions grossly exceed legitimate li­brary services, do violence to the Copyright Act, and constitute willful digital piracy on an indus­trial scale.” The Association of American ...Read More

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New Copyright Registration Rules

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced that “the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a new copyright registration rule that will allow authors to register up to fifty short textual works published online for a single flat fee.”

SFWA worked with the National Writers Union, Horror Writers Association, and American Society of Journalists and Authors to request this change starting in January 2017. The new rule will ...Read More

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Adams Family Wins Back Rights to Watership Down

The estate and family of Richard Adams, as Watership Down Enterprises, have won a lawsuit in the English High Court against film producer Martin Rosen, who wrote and directed a 1978 animated film adaptation of Watership Down. Rosen and his companies were ordered to pay costs ad well as damages of $95,000 for infringement of copyright, contracting unauthorized licensing deals, and withholding royalty payments. The court also terminated the ...Read More

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Captions Settlement Details

Some details have been released regarding the settlement between publishers and Audible regarding the latter’s “Audible Captions” program (which would have displayed scrolling, machine-generated text while an audiobook played). The publishers won: Audible will not be permitted to use copyrighted works in the program without permission. The judge approved a permanent injunction and request for dismissal with prejudice. Audible is forbidden from “creating, generating, reproducing, modifying, distributing, publishing, or displaying… ...Read More

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Captions Settlement

Audible and the publishers who sued them over their planned Captions program – which cre­ates scrolling, machine-generated text that dis­plays while their audiobooks are playing – have reached a settlement. Audible’s lawyer Em­ily Resbaum wrote to the court on January 13, 2020 that “We are pleased to inform the Court that the parties have resolved their disputes. The parties respectfully request until January 21 to allow the parties to obtain ...Read More

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Barnes & Noble Legal News

Barnes & Noble has requested a jury trial in the age discrimination lawsuit filed by Barbara Tavres in the US Dis­trict Court in Northern California. Tavres was fired on September 6, 2019 after a career that be­gan in 2006, and claimed Barnes & Noble fired her because of her age, and also used policies, practices, and procedures which disproportion­ately affected employees age 40 and older. She seeks class action status. ...Read More

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Barnes & Noble Lawsuit

Barbara Tavres, 59, has filed a lawsuit against her former employer Barnes & Noble in the in the US District Court in Northern California, alleging age discrimination, and seeking class action status. She was fired on September 6, 2019 after a career that began in 2006, starting in community relations and ending at a shop in Emeryville CA. Tavres claims that on the day of her termination her manager took ...Read More

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Captions News

The legal battle continues over Audible’s planned Captions program, which would display computer-generated text concurrent with audiobook narration. The Authors Guild and the Association of Authors’ Representatives filed a joint amicus brief to support the seven publish­ers who have sued to block the Captions program, saying the “feature presents a significant threat to the rights and livelihoods of authors and their rep­resentatives…. Audible seeks to bypass its glaring infringement of ...Read More

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Kramer Hacking Charges

Ed Kramer, co-founder of Dragon Con and convicted child molest­er, is in legal trouble again, this time in a compli­cated computer hacking case that involves various figures in the Georgia legal system. Superior Court judge Kathryn Schrader has been indicted, along with Kramer, a private investigator named TJ Ward, and a former sheriff’s deputy named Frank Karic. Schrader alleges that Gwinnett County district at­torney Danny Porter hacked her computer (which ...Read More

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Beagle Legal Update

Alameda County Superior Court judge Michal M. Markman ruled in favor of Peter S. Beagle on June 21, 2019 for several claims in Beagle’s civil suit against former business manager Connor Cochran, and awarded Beagle a total of $332,500 in damages. The judge accepted Beagle’s claims for defamation, financial elder abuse, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty, but dismissed the claims of conversion of assets and elder abuse based on ...Read More

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Roberts vs. Plagiarism

Bestselling author Nora Roberts filed a lawsuit in a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil court on April 24, 2019, accusing Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya of multiple counts of plagiarism. She alleges that Serruya copied text from Roberts and other writers for her novels, which are “a literary patchwork, piecing together phrases whose form portrays emotions practically identical to those expressed in the plaintiff’s books.” Roberts is seeking damages for 3,000 times ...Read More

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Audible Settles Lawsuits

Audiobook retailer Audible has en­tered into a settlement with two class action lawsuits, Grant McKee et al. v Audible, Inc. and Eric Weber and Bryan Rees v. Amazon.com, Inc., and Amazon Services LLC, bringing an end to 18 months of legal battles. Audible will issue up to 12 million audiobooks and reimburse as many as 8.4 million customers who incurred overdraft fees when Audible allegedly charged their cards without permission. ...Read More

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European Copyright News

The European Parliament passed the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive, a unified set of laws governing intellectual property rights in the European Union, by a vote of 348 to 274. The law will not go into effect unless the European Council passes it with a “formal endorsement,” via a simple majority. Once that happens, each country will have to implement the law by 2020. The version passed includes ...Read More

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EU Ebook Tax Rates

The European Union has decided after years of debate that member states may lower the value-added-tax (VAT) rate on ebooks to the same rate they charge for printed books (which are tax free in some countries). The October 2, 2018 decision by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council is “the final step to ensure that the unequal treatment of the two products – paper versus digital – becomes a thing ...Read More

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PEN Sues Trump

Writers’ organization PEN America is suing Donald Trump for violating first amendment rights by making “threats and retaliatory actions” against his opponents in the press, and for praising those who’ve committed acts of violence against journalists. PEN American president Jennifer Egan says, “It would be shocking at any time for the President of the United States to congratulate someone for an act of violence against a journalist, but right now, ...Read More

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Supreme Court Ruling Affects Online Retailers

In a 5-4 decision in late June, the US Supreme Court overturned Quill Corp v. North Dakota – the 1992 case that ruled states could only collect sales tax from companies with a physical presence in that state. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion:

The physical presence rule has long been criti­cized as giving out-of-state sellers an advantage. Each year, it becomes further removed from eco­nomic reality and ...Read More

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“Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages” Campaign

Members of the children’s book industry have launched the “Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages” campaign to raise funds to oppose family separation immigration policies in the US. The campaign initially started with the goal of $42,000 to purchase a full-page ad in The New York Times Book Review, which it reached within 24 hours, and later extended the goal to $200,000 to be distributed among charities and organizations ...Read More

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