As long as there have been books, there have been people trying to suppress them—government, business interests, and individuals bent on imposing their moral or religious views. The Authors Guild, from its beginnings, has worked to protect writers of all stripes and opinions.
Censorship can take many forms and it arises even in a free society like ours. The undermining of free speech can come from local school boards or state legislatures. But in the digital arena, there are new and unexpected opportunities for censorship. Where large companies gain dominance over business channels or communications networks, free speech may be at risk. It may also be at risk where governments interfere with Internet neutrality or electronic communication, or where a single corporation sells close to half of the nation’s books while controlling the means to suppress the sale of any given title.
We’re watching those issues closely. We’re aware, too, that copyright can sometimes be abused in the name of blocking political speech—and as much as we treasure intellectual property rights, we treasure free speech more. That’s why we fight against bills that would give celebrities or trademark holders the ability to quash certain content in books.
Additionally, the Guild has long supported a federal shield law that not only protects news reporters’ need to preserve source confidentiality, but also safeguards the public against the dangers of classified information leaks. The law’s most recent iteration, the Free Flow of Information Act, was introduced in 2007, and it has hovered close to enactment for much of the last decade. Here we’ll keep you up to date on the bill’s progress, as well as the rest of the Guild’s free speech advocacy efforts.
As part of our free speech advocacy, we’ve put together a Freedom of Expression Watchlist, a running tally of threats to press freedom in this era of heightened scrutiny and intimidation of writers and journalists.