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. (See below.) 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, and the Patriot Act.
Currently (October 2012), we are following two lawsuits in which we have actively been involved, -- anti-book piracy measures within the federal government, anti-SLAP P suit legislation ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") -- and other issues as they arise.
- 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. Our statement should appear soon in the Federal Register; we'll post the link.
- ASJA believes copying books without permission of the author is copyright infringement. We formally objected to both Gogoge Book Search settlement attempts.
- 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, chaired by past-president Claire Safran, issues statements on behalf of the committee and ASJA's Board of Directors.
- 2012-06-07: ASJA Presents Open Book Award to Arizona Group for Its Brave Defense of the Right to Read
- 2012-04-12: ASJA Defends the Right to Focus on the Police
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?