Canadian Writers Against the Google settlement

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Hello Everybody —

If you have any questions about the following, please contact me.
As many of you have pointed out, Canadian writers’ associations were passive in the face of the Google grab. (An exception to this was CAUT, the Canadian Association of University Teachers.)  In sharp contrast, most American associations condemned it unequivocally.
One of those associations was The National Writers Union.
Please read the following from Sarah Sheard, a co-founder of CWAG. blog.sarahsheard.com

Open Letter to Canadian writers

Dear Friends,
I first became aware of  the New-York based National Writers’ Union (NWU) during our recent battle against the Google Book Settlement. Unlike our  Canadian unions — and the American Authors’ Guild, which brokered the Google deal — the NWU spoke up bitingly against the GBS, demonstrating an inspirational level of leadership on behalf of its members.
It is an activist union. In my view, this is what writers must have, at this time. NWU is vocal and specific about contract terms and has set high royalties for erights. They are not afraid to litigate. Their affiliation with the UAW (United Auto Workers) puts hard-line union teeth into their commitment. I contacted them to discuss how Canadian writers might participate with NWU.
Ten days ago, I  met in person with Larry Goldbetter, President, and Karen Ford, 3rd Vice President, who travelled to Canada to meet with me, writer David Bolt and Linda Page, a Canadian academic writer. We discussed how Canadian writers might join forces with NWU in order to fight together for a fair share of erights and related digital issues soon to confront all writers on this continent and elsewhere.
We agreed that digital publishing cannot be contained within geographic boundaries and will have vast implications wherever/however our writing is marketed to readers. We believe that writers can best fight for their creators’ share if they stand together, pool information and network with one another — certainly within North America. Possibly with Europe too, as we did, when we  joined with Gillian Spraggs in the U.K. in formally objecting to the Google Book Settlement.
In March, I resigned from The Writers’ Union of Canada. I do not believe it is sufficiently committed to fighting hard and smart on behalf of its members. This is a critical time for writers quickly to get savvy to the technology reshaping our livelihoods, and to put more voice into how we make our cultural contribution.TWUC is currently searching for a new Executive Director. A steep learning curve lies ahead for whoever takes the wheel. Here’s hoping TWUC finds someone with both the passion and the steel to advance writers’ causes effectively. Meanwhile, there is no time to lose.
I am joining NWU. Its site is a model to me of what a writers’ union ought to be. At last, I thought, reading it. A real union. It is strong both in its advocacy and in its services, although it explains it is not a service organisation. Its posted Digital Bill of Rights and Campaign for Digital Rights is a passionate declaration of first principles. It will also look over contracts, patch you into a high-octane listserv of member writers across America and circulate a regular newsletter with very chewable contents.Its membership is open to professional writers as well as to writers aspiring to break into the field. Its annual dues are scaled to earnings, starting at $120 (U.S) if your writing income is under $5000. It also offers a 6-month membership. There is no need to drop membership to other writers’ organisations in order to join NWU.
I urge you to visit their site and check it out for yourselves. I hope you will consider joining it. www.nwu.org.
United we stand.
Sarah Sheard


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