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On the SFWA Copyright Committee

On the SFWA Copyright Committee

Others have presented their opinions regarding SFWA's decision to create a Copyright Committee, of which I was made chair, and regarding the "Scribd Affair." I respect their right to their opinions, though I disagree with some and believe there are misperceptions, exaggerations, and falsehoods floating around for purposes of advancing their particular philosophy. That's entirely their right. I hope folks will listen to both sides (such as the link above) before judging, not just those with the far larger soapbox.

The new committee will follow almost all the recommendations of the committee that polled SFWA members for their wishes regarding whether SFWA would assist members with copyright infringement of their work. (80% or more of SFWA members polled requested this.) Some of those expressing animated opinions about this subject were even on this committee.

I invited some of those same critics to join the new Copyright Committee. From the letter I wrote to all members of "exploratory committee":

Hi, everyone, Capo may already have approached you about this, but either way, I wanted to personally extend an invitation for each of you to join the new Copyright Committee that's arisen as the result of your report.

I know some of you haven't always seen eye to eye with me; I've had some rousing debates with some of you over things we've obviously both felt strongly about (from which I've learned quite a bit); and some of you may just think I'm an odious monster with giant horns, acid drool and sulfurous breath, but I hope that doesn't put you off. What's past is past from my perspective; it doesn't bother me to work side by side with people with differing philosophical views -- and in fact I welcome it and seek it out, because I learn (and even change my views) based on sound reasoning. Heck, you might even see I don't really have horns quite as big as you thought if you give me a chance (and I'm taking a tonic for the sulfur, though I may still drool on occasion).

Indeed, the committee needs members like you with views that span the spectrum. Part of our charge, as you all recommended, is to update and enhance the educational copyright and infringement material SFWA puts out there. The only way to produce a truly balanced view is to have input from all sides and cordial debate. (I won't brook any committee members attacking any other members personally in committee discussions, though all ideas are fair game. What happens publicly is your business, but in the committee I will do my best to ensure cordiality at all times.)

You don't need to take part in any takedown activities if you don't want to.

There's some meaty work ahead; I welcome any help you can provide. Just drop me a line if you're of a mind to join up.


I believe in what I said; I welcome all (cordial) views and learn from them. I believe in sound logic, and respond well to it. Certainly I've made mistakes in life -- who hasn't? I do hope that my actions will be able to speak louder than the words of others about what I do and why. I won't rebut every wrong thing people have said, there's just too many and some are too ludicrous. I've historically had a reputation as a fair and open-minded person who tries to do good work for the community at large (such as Nyx, Critters, etc.), so I hope that says something. It's the free speech right of folks to exaggerate their disagreements with me and say false things to advance their goals; all I ask is for people to listen to all sides of a story and judge rationally.

Thanks for listening.

Dr. Andrew Burt

On Copyright
Ebook (un)availability, a case study
On Scribd
On Doctorow