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?