While in London, General Counsel Cheryl Davis paid a visit to one of the Guild’s UK counterparts, the Society of Authors (SoA), the UK trade union for writers, illustrators, and literary translators. The Guild has worked with the SoA frequently in the past, including on a joint Fair Contract Initiative that explored issues in book contracts that affected authors on both sides of the Atlantic. When our members have contracts with UK publishers, we recommend that they reach out to the SoA, and vice versa. Both organizations have studied declining income for writers and are working together to remedy that situation through advocacy work and discussions with publishers. On November 15, we will have a joint program with the SoA and our Canadian counterpart, the Writers’ Union, in New York to discuss the state of authorship in our countries today. Cheryl met with the SoA’s Chief Executive Nicola Solomon, Advisor Kate Pool, Contracts Advisor Sarah Burton, and others. They discussed various topics, including differing approaches to protecting intellectual property in the U.S. and the UK (such as the concept of “fair use” in the U.S. vs. the UK’s “fair dealing”), working with Amazon to address specific member complaints, and the Guild’s ongoing advocacy for the proposed small claims copyright bill, which would set up a system similar to that of the UK’s Intellectual Property Enterprises Court’s Small Claims Track—Nicola Solomon is herself a judge on that court. Such a system would enable U.S. authors to bring relatively simple copyright cases in a more financially and judicially efficient manner.
Cheryl and Nicola also discussed ways in which the two organizations can continue to work together in the future, in addition to their regular calls to discuss new and ongoing issues for authors in their respective countries. These future collaborations include working on pieces explaining the differences between the copyright laws of each country and working together to license rights to literary properties that are managed by both organizations. The collaboration will continue at our November 15 panel on the current state of authorship at the Scandinavian House in New York City.