It’s odd how the smaller “niche” areas of content, especially print, are managing to be more reactionary and more insane than the big businesses. I can see how they feel more threatened, and unlike the major companies they tend to be earnest in their anger rather than posturing to try and pad a bottom line. It’s even stranger when it’s people who are supposed to be forward thinkers by definition, like the SFWA.
Warren does a good job of explaining the story so far:
The Science Fiction Writers Of America have occasionally been a source of amusement to me, as they essentially comport themselves as enemies of art and the future. After their last major balls-up ? involving the misuse by one Dr Andrew Burt of DMCA to cause a website to remove works SWFA actually had no jurisdiction over ? they disbanded the ?epiracy? committee Dr Burt ran and put together an exploratory committee to make an informed, expert recommendation on the SWFA?s official policy on copyright and file-sharing. Charlie Stross let himself get talked into joining that committee and working on the formal report.
The core of our report, in a nutshell, was this: SFWA should represent its members interests when asked to do so. In order to deal with members asking SFWA to act against copyright infringements, SFWA should establish a new copyright advisory committee to replace of the piracy committee, with set procedures (and a quorum of members required to implement them) to avoid anything like the earlier debacle recurring.
A further recommendation was discussed, but the general feeling was that it would be inappropriate to put it in the committee’s formal report. It was my understanding that it would be brought to the attention of the president of SFWA via a back channel. This recommendation was simple: that at all costs, Andrew Burt must be kept the hell away from the copyright committee.
Guess what’s happened?
Yup. I am not privy to his thinking, but our dear president and executive have voted to reinstate the old piracy committee, with Andrew Burt to chair it, under the new name of the SFWA copyright committee.
Clearly the current executive of SFWA is making damaging decisions and ignoring input from committees it appointed, and and in view of this I call on SFWA president Mike Capobianco and the rest of the SFWA executive ? including Andrew Burt ? to resign immediately. Meanwhile, I’d like to call on all other SFWA members who don’t want to see their organization commit public relations suicide to make their voices heard.
Science fiction writers should know better than anybody that the future is coming and they aren’t going to stop it, but it must be hard to see the business that you’ve come to rely on falling apart as your audience ages with. Especially when you’ve been hoping that it might hold together long enough for you to keep going until you retire.