Advocacy

ASJA takes its role as the voice of freelance writers seriously. We take positions on issues of national import, such as copyright, and legal or industry changes affecting the ability of independent writers to make a living.

Generally, we strive to be non-partisan and we don't endorse candidates for office.

ASJA addresses topics via statements and press releases from our Board of Directors, and statements issued jointly by the Board and First Amendment Committee. Topics recently addressed: attempts to ban the book 50 Shades of Gray, FEMA restrictions on freedom of speech, jail threats for journalists, onerous visa requirements for foreign reporters, abuse of journalists in Iraq, the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and the risks journalists face while reporting in danger zones around the world.

  • In July, 2012, ASJA responded to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's request for comments on enforcement strategies for intellectual property and copyright.
  • ASJA believes copying books without permission of the author is copyright infringement. We formally objected to both Google Book Search settlement attempts. UPDATE: U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, has upheld the lower court's ruling that Google's use of book "snippets" without the authors' permission constitutes Fair Use. Ars Technica has a roundup of what it all means.
  • ASJA was one of the original litigants in the lawsuit that means writers are paid when their work is included in a database, Tasini v. the New York Times. We continue to monitor proceedings in an offshoot of that case concerning potential damages, which the Supreme Court remanded to a lower court for reconsideration last year.

Supporting the First Amendment

ASJA has a long history of supporting free speech. Our First Amendment Committee, on behalf of the Committee and ASJA's Board of Directors, speaks out against censorship and recognizes exceptional journalistic courage via its Conscience in Media Awards.

Banned Books Week

In 1981, ASJA members staged a read-in on the steps of the New York Public Library, protesting attempts to squelch the right to read freely. The following year, ASJA joined with the American Library Association and other groups to found Banned Book Week, which has been celebrated for the past 30 years during a week in September. Every year, there are hundreds of attempts to ban a book. In 2011, there were 376. Here's a list of challenged books.

ASJA members wear a red button "I read banned books" during the month of September. Want one?

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson