Sunday, November 8, 2009

Authors Survey Will Be Mailed Soon -- It Brings In Half Of Union's Income

To: NWU members
From: Martin Zabell
Date: Oct. 27, 2009

NWU-Chicago membership:

I was informed today that something called an Authors Coalition survey brings in MORE THAN HALF of the National Writers' Union's annual income.

I don't recall filling out this survey myself in the past, but I'm told that membership participation is important. The more participants who have had their writing reproduced in foreign nations, the more money the union gets. I don't understand this entire program myself, but I hope to in the next several days. As I learn about it, I will send out the survey forms and urge all of you to fill it out.

I will keep you informed of this important matter in the ensuing days.

This matter was the highlight of the monthly national meeting, which ended about half an hour ago. In other news, we were told that the national newsletter would be revived soon, the NWU lost some sort of workmen’s compensation case, and the union has made such great progress in its battle against textbook companies that aren’t paying their authors that the UAW, our parent, is considering investing a lot of money in pursuing a company’s owners.
(Note that there was negative news in the above graph. I’m a longtime reporter and I hope to maintain my credibility by reporting good and bad news. If you want to know the real dope, don’t hesitate to call.)

Martin Zabell
Chicago chapter
National Writers Union

PS -- Below are the best explanations I have been given of the Authors Coalition. The first graph was written by national VP Ann Hoffman; the second graph by national president Larry Goldbetter of Chicago.

Authors Coalition Survey
For the past year, the National Writers Union has been working with many other author groups as part of the Authors Coalition to reclaim non-title specific royalties from photocopies made abroad. With your help, in the past year the National Writers Union has collected $335,000, which has allowed us to engage in the Google book situation, provide invaluable contract advice and in other ways to defend the rights of writers in their copyrights. Our share of the money collected is determined by the responses that we get from the genre survey below; your prompt and accurate answers will determine how much money we receive in the coming year.
(actual survey attached: I have been unable to copy it without distorting it)

The money comes from royalties collected by various authors groups and I believe government agencies for foreign authors whose works may have been reproduced in Europe. We ask our members if they have written anything that MIGHT have been copied in Europe. We need a 60 percent affirmative response, and the bigger the response the bigger the
check we receive.

National Writers Union-Chicago Seeks Volunteers To Plan 2010 Events

To: NWU-Chicago membership
From: Martin Zabell (chairperson of NWU-Chicago)
Date: Oct. 14, 2009

At last night's monthly NWU-Chicago leadership meeting, the leadership agreed that we should begin planning our 2010 schedule.

What we need to do is formulate a schedule of events, perhaps one every two months, with one event being the building block for the second event and the second event being the lead-in to the third event, etc.

We also discussed specific events that would be of interest to the Chicago writing community and, once we found them, making these events part of our regular schedule. The events that were discussed most often were A. Self-publishing; B. Finding publishers and agents for books; C. Whether there is a future in blogging.

One problem we have had in the past is that not enough people have been involved in planning events. Thus, I am seeking people willing to volunteer their time to help plan the above events. And, of course, if you have suggestions for other events, please forward them on. We probably need four or five people to help plan each event. Someone from the NWU-Chicago leadership will be the lead planner for each event and will be the person to devote the most time for planning.

Please understand that these events could be an OPPORTUNITY for you to tell the world what you have done. In other words, you can help plan the event AND be a speaker. For example, if you self-published a book, an NWU event will an OPPORTUNITY for you to sell your book. And Event No. 2 can build on Event No. 1.

If we decided to plan a self-publishing event for April, we need to begin planning a couple of months ahead so I and other members of the leadership can also spend our time planning publicity for the event that you helped plan.

For the union to work, we NEED more active members. Participation is very gratifying and gives people a sense of belonging. I was an inactive member for a few years and am now active. It's worth the money you have already invested in our future if you also invest your time.

The union has made great progress since the former Chicago leadership in June was elected to national leadership. We are challenging an effort by Google to essentially take your copyrights for a ridiculously low price (better explanations can be read at; or, have been in the news more often for these efforts, are challenging textbook companies that have unfairly paid or not paid writers and editors, and are in the process of starting NWU-Chicago's first newsletter (which should come out by year's end).

For the union to take the next steps, we need your ACTIVE PARTICIPATION.

Martin Zabell

PS -- I would also appreciate it if you would inform me of other writing groups you belong to. This helps us plan future events. For example, if you are a member of a mystery writers or science fiction writers club, we can then co-sponsor events on more specific topics than those I have outlined above.

PS 2 -- Please phone me if you're interested at 708-832-2595. Please don't make me phone every single member of the union as I tried to do in August. I’m way too shy.

PS 3 -- I will post this notice on our Web site –

National Writers Union To Authors Guild: Withdraw From Google Pact

National Writers Union Calls on the Authors Guild to

Withdraw from The Google Copyright Infringement Settlement

for immediate release 9/25/09 – contact Larry Goldbetter (212) 254-0279

NEW YORK, September 25, 2009 – The National Writers Union today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Justice filing in the Google Book Settlement:

The Department of Justice has recommended that the United States District Court reject the proposed Google Book Settlement. The Department found that the settlement should be rejected on the grounds that it violated anti-trust laws, that it would lead to copyright infringement, and that the Authors Guild did not properly represent the class of authors. In response to this, the parties to the agreement asked for and were granted a postponement of the October 7 fairness hearing. National Writers Union President Larry Goldbetter stated, “We support the Department of Justice recommendation and call on the Authors Guild to withdraw from the current settlement, so that they can join in new negotiations with the many voices that have up to now been excluded.”

“The proposed settlement was simply unacceptable,” he said. “It upends copyright law, is an abuse of the class-action process, and is a bad deal for writers.” For the proposed settlement to be fair and comply with the law, fundamental changes are necessary. This can only happen with the input of those who opposed the settlement – including authors, libraries, independent publishers, consumer advocates, state attorneys general, the Justice Department, and Congress.

Goldbetter said, “We look forward to working with all affected parties to shape a new agreement, that upholds copyright law and serves the interests of all readers and writers.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The National Writers Union Open Letter
To Al Gore About The Google Book Settlement

September 1, 2009

Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620
Nashville, TN 37203

Dear Vice President Gore:

As a national leader with a distinguished career in public service, we are seeking your help in protecting the rights and economic well-being of our members on a matter of great public interest.

The proposed settlement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers threatens to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the world’s largest digital book database. As a senior advisor to Google and given your personal relationship with co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, we respectfully ask you to urge Google’s management to petition the court for a delay in settlement proceedings so that writers have more time to examine this complex agreement. The court deadline for our members to “opt-out” of the program is September 4, and the court could close the entire process down and approve the private settlement on October 7. We believe that both dates should be postponed.

The proposed settlement would give Google monopolistic control over access to many previously published copyrighted books and materials. It would also give Google a license to reproduce a writer’s copyrighted work unless the writer specifically tells Google to remove his or her work from the program. This is grossly unfair. No corporation should be able to profit from the work of our members without first obtaining their permission in writing.

The National Writers Union/United Auto Workers Local 1981 is the nation’s only labor union and advocacy organization for freelance writers in all genres, media and formats. We have joined a growing number of voices who are raising concerns about the settlement as the court deadlines loom. There has been no formal public process for stakeholders to have real input on the myriad details of this settlement. We hope that you will use your leadership position at Google to impress upon management that a settlement as revolutionary and unprecedented as this one deserves more public input and scrutiny.

You have always fought for workers and creators and have been a pioneer in the digital age. Your strong pro-consumer record is unassailable. Today, labor truly needs your help. With Labor Day just around the corner, we hope that you hear our call.

In Solidarity,

Larry Goldbetter
National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
(212) 254-0279 ext. 814


At its Aug. 25 monthly meeting, the National Writers Union was informed that it has progressed so much in the past few months that the United Auto Workers has decided to begin giving the NWU complete autonomy. The NWU should be out of administratorship by the end of the year.

The NWU leadership also voted for the NWU joining the Open Book Alliance. A press release was written a few days later and is printed below.


NEW YORK -- The National Writers Union announced today that it has joined the Open Book Alliance: a diverse coalition of writers' organizations, librarians, activists, legal scholars and corporations who object to the proposed Google Book Settlement.

"We are happy to join the Open Book Alliance, which shares many of our concerns about the proposed Google Book Settlement," said Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981. "The proposed settlement is patently unfair to writers and could set a dangerous legal precedent."

Earlier this week, the National Writers Union called on former Vice President Al Gore, in his capacity as a senior advisor to Google, to use his considerable influence to urge Google to seek a delay in the settlement proceedings. The National Writers Union announced its objection to the proposed Google Book Settlement last month.

"Google's book scanning project is one the largest cases of copyright infringement since the United States Constitution was adopted in 1789," Goldbetter said. "The multibillion-dollar corporation scanned more than seven million different books without permission from the copyright owners. In an attempt to placate its victims, Google is throwing some crumbs to writers." Google enjoyed a net income of more than $4.5 billion last year. It is offering writers as little as $60 per infringed book and $15 per infringed article.

"It's a bad deal," Goldbetter said. "Along with the other members of the Open Book Alliance, the National Writers Union wants to promote a fair alternative to the proposed settlement."

The National Writers Union is the nation's only labor union and advocacy organization for freelance writers in all genres, media, and formats. In addition to print media writers, NWU represents electronic writers and editors of blogs, Web sites and e-newsletters. The NWU is affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is a member of the AFL-CIO. The NWU's headquarters are at 113 University Place, 6th floor, New York, NY 10003.


On September 1, the National Writers Union called on former Vice President Al Gore to use his considerable influence to urge Google Inc. to seek a delay in the proceedings of the Google Book Settlement.

Gore is a Senior Advisor to Google and is said to be a friend of Google''s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In a letter faxed today to Gore, NWU President Larry Goldbetter said the delay is needed because the settlement is
complex and stakeholders need more time to examine the agreement. The court deadline for writers to "opt-out" of the program is Friday, Sept. 4. The court could close the entire process down and approve the settlement on Oct. 7.

To read the NWU''s open letter to Vice President Gore, go to the Google Settlement page.


NEW YORK, NY -- On September 8, the National Writers Union filed legal objections to the proposed settlement of the Google Books copyright infringement lawsuit. In the brief filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the NWU joins as a "friend of the court" in support of objections also being made by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and 58 individual authors.

"The proposed settlement is an abuse of the law and unfair to writers," said National Writers Union President Larry Goldbetter. ""It has prompted justified outrage and objections from writers of all types, across the country and around the world.

"The National Writers Union felt compelled to support the opposition to the settlement," Goldbetter said. "We must defend writers'' legal, economic, and moral rights. We can''t let Google or any megacorporation steal our work, republish it and sell ads around it without permission and paying us only a pittance."

The NWU is fighting the proposed settlement in court, with the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, through Congress, and via efforts with coalition partners such as the ASJA and the Open Book Alliance. Last week, the NWU called on former Vice President Al Gore, a Google senior advisor, to urge Google to seek a delay in the settlement proceedings. The NWU announced its objection to the proposed Google Book Settlement last month.

The NWU''s amicus curiae brief was filed by co-counsel Michael J. Guzman, partner with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, and Lynn Chu, Esq., principal of the literary agency Writers Reps.

"We are grateful that these attorneys volunteered to represent the NWU and the cause of writers' rights," NWU President Goldbetter said. "This is not a partisan or ideological issue. We invite all writers to join us to fight this theft of our rights," he added.