Sunday, September 02, 2007

Resistance Reason #999

I wasn't going to write about this, but someone (you know who you are) suggested that it was a moral imperative, seeing as I was around the last time it happened, and my response basically got me blackballed from polite SF society for life.

About ten years ago I escaped from the Borg after the head drones created the WotC mess (for those who weren't around back then, read the third paragraph here. This was where it all started.) In the end the Borg made a financial deal with WotC on behalf of its membership that was not 100% supported by the membership, and I didn't want any part of it, so I quit. When they received my resignation, one of the board members actually called my house to browbeat and threaten me. It scared me because I was a rookie who didn't know any better, but it also convinced me that I'd made the right decision. Now it seems that the collective is at it again.

I'm not going to say I told you so. Much.

What an author chooses to publish for free on the internet is their decision (I would make sure to get a green light from the publisher for any work under contract so you don't end up in court.) I've published plenty of free stuff myself, I've been bootlegged, and I've had my issues with the Creative Commons crowd as well. Whatever my personal opinions, I'm never going to tell another author what they have to do with their work. Nor would I tolerate any writer or writer organization telling me what to do with mine.

I certainly would never remove their work from the internet without their expressed permission. Hello, this is like definition #1 under dumb in the dictionary.

I know this is a very weird concept, but writer organizations are supposed to support their membership. All the membership, not just the big names and Sacred Cows. I also understand the hysterics over bootlegging; some folks take exception to the virtual rabble despoiling all that net-virginal work. However, to use copyright law as an excuse to indulge in their own form of droit du seigneur is ridiculous and rather obscene.

I'm sure this will all be swept under the rug, the same way it was ten years ago, and the chief offenders punished for daring to stand up to the group. Excuse me for still hoping that it won't be, and that this time someone will be made to answer for their actions.

24 comments:

  1. I do have to say that there is one amusing part in all this, and those are the comments left in so many circles that this never would have happened if John Scalzi were Prez of The Borg. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve wrote: I do have to say that there is one amusing part in all this, and those are the comments left in so many circles that this never would have happened if John Scalzi were Prez of The Borg.

    Capobianco's response comes in as runner-up. Wanna bet how many times he whips out the word inadvertantly in the next couple of weeks?

    ReplyDelete
  3. PBW, I read in this month's Romantic Times that you dare to give away free ebooks.

    And now this. You have no shame, do you? :P

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous12:50 PM

    Lynn, they called your HOUSE? Jesus.

    I'm on a network list of pro female skiffy writers who are sick and tired of what sfwa.borg are doing in our names. I'd like to pass along your post, with linkage, if that's all right.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fortunately, they are not Borglike enough to assimilate sqrls who don't wish to be assimilated (and who don't qualify anyway).

    I've been following this story with amaze, and more amaze, and have been considering sending some bandages for the collective Borg foot. A shot in the toes like that's gotta hurt, especially when the foot's shoved in the mouth immediately afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey, you're not blackballed from this polite SF writer's list of anything :-) I read your blog everyday. I gather you don't go to SF cons, but I'd be happy to lunch with you if you ever did!

    -Tobias

    ReplyDelete
  7. Shiloh wrote: PBW, I read in this month's Romantic Times that you dare to give away free ebooks.

    Oh, God. I've finally been outed by RT? Why didn't someone tell me?

    (snicker)

    Well, at least I won't have to worry about RWA removing my e-books from the internet. 'Cause I quit them too!

    And now this. You have no shame, do you?

    No, but my friends love me anyway. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous wrote: Lynn, they called your HOUSE?

    I should have recorded the conversation. I'd own SFWA now.

    I'm on a network list of pro female skiffy writers who are sick and tired of what sfwa.borg are doing in our names. I'd like to pass along your post, with linkage, if that's all right.

    As long as you make it clear that I am not a member of SFWA, and that Capobianco and company can kiss my romance writer ass, no problem.

    Okay, maybe leave out the part about my ass. He might take me up on it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Buffysquirrel wrote: Fortunately, they are not Borglike enough to assimilate sqrls who don't wish to be assimilated (and who don't qualify anyway).

    Hey, if they ever go after sqrls, the SF underground will protect you.

    I've been following this story with amaze, and more amaze, and have been considering sending some bandages for the collective Borg foot.

    You'll have to wait for them to pull it out of Burt's mouth.

    A shot in the toes like that's gotta hurt, especially when the foot's shoved in the mouth immediately afterwards.

    This is why they don't assimilate sqrls. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Tobias wrote: Hey, you're not blackballed from this polite SF writer's list of anything :-)

    You're polite? Since when?

    I read your blog everyday. I gather you don't go to SF cons, but I'd be happy to lunch with you if you ever did!

    Thank you for the compliment, kind sir. Although if you ever do see me at a SF con, call the police, because I will have been abducted, drugged and dragged there.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow... Can they do it? or Can they get away with it?

    I see a lawsuit in the works. Cyn

    ReplyDelete
  12. >You're polite? Since when?

    Um, did I do something wrong, I wasn't aware I'd been impolite, if so I apologize. I really go out of my way to not cause offense to anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am *so* glad I decided not to join the collective when dang near all my aspiring writer buddies said I should (since I was the first to break the unpublished bubble).

    Ooooooh! Big Pro-Writer organization, and I qualify! As a Pro, even!

    Oooh?

    Uh....

    Ohhhhhh.

    Oh, hell no!


    I'm glad I was able to slip away on an escape pod before they assimilated me.

    Btw, should we start calling you Kathryn Janeway?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cynthia wrote: Wow... Can they do it? or Can they get away with it?

    They do and they will.

    I see a lawsuit in the works.

    Doubtful. They'll say it was an accident, no malice intended, which will be debated at length. Conspiracy theories will fly fast and thick. Statements and manifestos will be issued, meaningless measures will be taken, and a few unimportant writers will resign. If anyone brings a living, breathing attorney to the table, the head Borg will whine about how poor the organization is, and a lawsuit would be like picking everyone's pockets. Then all will be forgiven and they'll go back to business as usual.

    Watch and see if I'm right (I'd love to be wrong, of course.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tobias wrote: Um, did I do something wrong, I wasn't aware I'd been impolite, if so I apologize. I really go out of my way to not cause offense to anyone.

    I can't respond to that without embarrassing you, which I'm not willing to do, so if you want to discuss this further, e-mail me: LynnViehl@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. While I dont find what SFWA did particularly smart etc, what dropped my jaw was your link to the original reason you left the organization.

    Why?

    SFWA doesn't recognize pen and paper Role Playing publication as counting toward membership eligibility.

    They haven't for 20+ years.

    Now, it could be argued that some of the original (less than the first 100 issues) issues of Dragon did count toward being a SFWA member, which could explain their actions. However, that they would express concern/extort WOTC over this issue when they don't consider this form of writing under their membership guidelines is just ridiculous.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tam wrote: I'm glad I was able to slip away on an escape pod before they assimilated me.

    And you got a big award, too -- they hated having you slip through their claws.

    Btw, should we start calling you Kathryn Janeway?

    Only if I get Paris as my personal valet. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Colin wrote: While I dont find what SFWA did particularly smart etc, what dropped my jaw was your link to the original reason you left the organization.

    Yep. Borg mentality at its finest.

    Now, it could be argued that some of the original (less than the first 100 issues) issues of Dragon did count toward being a SFWA member, which could explain their actions. However, that they would express concern/extort WOTC over this issue when they don't consider this form of writing under their membership guidelines is just ridiculous.

    They meddle in a lot of things that make no sense whatsoever, Colin, and claim they're doing it for the benefit of their membership. Yet somehow a significant portion of the membership only ends up getting screwed. To this day, I can't fathom it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Theresa Nielsen Hayden's post at the very end of the long BoingBoing comments thread sums things up nicely:

    6. Rule of thumb: given a range of possible explanations for some action on SFWA's part, pick the one that assumes the organization is in a state of chaos and is having a flamewar about it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yet another reason that I hesitate to join writers' organizations.

    Thanks, as usual, for being who you are -- you've helped a lot of writers with this blog and you never cease to impress me.

    Best,

    Doug

    ReplyDelete
  21. Once upon a time, when I first committed myself to a writing life, I desired membership in SFWA with a burning passion. I didn't qualify at the time, but I promised myself that someday, I would join those glittering ranks.

    I worked hard, submitted short stories, wrote a novel, wrote another. At last, I sold a novel to Tor. Finally, I qualify for membership!

    And now I no longer want to join.

    Funny how life plays out, isn't it? *grin*

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well, one of my goals was to become a member of the society eventually. I am shredding that idea (using my cross-cut shredder).

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Gerri4:03 AM

    http://community.livejournal.com/sfwa/31606.html

    Here's a copy of the offical statement from the LJ community...

    SFWA ePiracy Committee Activities Suspended

    The SFWA Board has just passed the following motion:

    Motion: That, effective imediately, all of the activities of the current ePiracy Committee be suspended and the Committee itself be disbanded until such time as the Board has had the opportunity to review the legal ramifications of sending out any additional DMCA notices, as well as to explore other methods by which SFWA may be able to assist authors in defending their individual rights, while ensuring that any such activity will not unduly expose SFWA to negative legal ramifications.

    Further, that the Board shall issue a call for a temporary, exploratory committee of between five and nine individuals to investigate the views of the membership on issues of copyright, authors rights, what role the membership would like to see SFWA take on these matters and what level is risk (legal, public relations or otherwise) is acceptable to the membership in regards to that role, and what - if any - public policy statement SFWA might issue on these subjects on behalf of its membership.

    Finally, that the Board, in conjunction with the findings of the above committee and its own deliberations, will work to develop a new, permanent
    committee with a clear matrix of operations and goals, whose purposes shall include, but not necessarily be limited to protecting the copyrights of our member authors who desire such protection in a way that complies with the applicable laws, and to help educate both our membership and the public at large in regardsto copyright law.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Gerri wrote: Motion: That, effective imediately, all of the activities of the current ePiracy Committee be suspended and the Committee itself be disbanded until such time as the Board has had the opportunity to review the legal ramifications of sending out any additional DMCA notices, as well as to explore other methods by which SFWA may be able to assist authors in defending their individual rights, while ensuring that any such activity will not unduly expose SFWA to negative legal ramifications.

    Priceless. I couldn't write a better parody of the situation myself.

    Thanks for posting this, Gerri.

    ReplyDelete