Monday, April 14, 2008

This is one of those posts I get in trouble for

Excuse me while I go slightly off the topic of query rejection and into another kind of rejection.

Authors have it bad these days. They're being sued or they're suing someone. I'm surprised Anne Rice, the only author I know to have established and nourished a base of fans who personally hate her, found time to find Christ between lawsuits against fanfic authors, restaurant owners, and dead people's relatives. But really, she's old news.

J.K. Rowling is suing the Harry Potter Lexicon book, which she supported when it was just a website supporting her work, and now is a published book supporting her work and making money off of it. Yes, yes, it's copyright violation, but not only is it far from the only book ever to heavily violate Harry Potter copyright, but she claims it has "decimated my creative work over the last month." To be fair, suing fans for trying to make a buck off you can be demoralizing, but damn, woman, you have a lot of bucks. And what were you doing, writing HP 8?

But I'm actually most sympathetic to Andrew Morton, who in February published a sleazy tell-all book about Tom Cruise in the form of an "unauthorized biography." When it came out in the US, people criticized it for lack of sources (as Tom Cruise and everyone who is friends with Tom Cruise, i.e. is a Scientologist, wouldn't say a word to him), said the writing was choppy, and ultimately decided that the characterization of the star was probably flawed. Tom Cruise threatened to sue him, as is his right to do, for writing something that amounts to several hundred pages of mainly unsubstantiated libel and slander. The lawsuit didn't go through (yet), but Tom Cruise did something more important - he got the publisher to agree not to publish it in Britain (Morton's home country) or Australia. The book did so well, St. Martin's took another pass at it to get an "approved" version to sell in Britain, only to dismiss the idea when they realized the book would be about four pages long because nobody would take their calls.

Brits needing their sleazy Tom Cruise fix will have to shop at eBay and find an international shipper, because Amazon.co.uk won't sell his work (except through used sellers). Good for them, right? Standing up against libel?

So what else does Amazon.co.uk sell? Well, let's see: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Synagogue of Satan, Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants, The Exposure of Anti Christ's League Of The Untouchables, Inc, and Dajjal: The Anti Christ, but thank goodness theories about Tom Cruise's personal life are safe from British eyes. Unless, of course, they own a computer, a television, or read newspapers.

Actually, Amazon and bookstores in general don't sell a lot of books that are anti-Scientology, which the Andrew Norton book most definitely is. The authors get sued, the books don't come out, and in a few cases, lives are completely ruined. That's not really protection against libel - that's censorship, or in the case of Paulette Cooper, total psychotic behavior on the part of an organization.

There are many, many anti-Semitic and anti-Israel books out there, some by former Presidents. They get a little write-up in the New Jersey Jewish News, some opinion articles are written, and Alan Dershowitz puts out another book disputing claims made in said book. We make a fuss, because a fuss should be made when lies are told to further political interest. Do we censor? Do we do everything possible to ruin the author's lives? No, we don't (for the most part. Nobody's blameless here).

Everyone has the right to free speech. If the Chinese can say that the Dalai Lama is a terrorist who is planning suiciding bombings and we can reprint it in the interest of providing news without our heads exploding, then there's some appreciation for the two-way street that free speech and censorship follow. Depending, of course, on how rich and lawsuit-happy your target is.

If google ads pop up for Scientology because of this post, do not click on them. Go to Xenu.net instead. I don't want that dirty money.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Scientology. They will stalk, intimidate and/or sue anyone who dares criticize them for anything, especially if it's true. They pretend that disconnection doesn't exist, and yet dozens of ex-members testify they are no longer allowed any contacts with members of their families that are still in Scientology. They pretend their Narconon drug rehab program works, while doctors say it is dangerous for health and people who go through it say it's hell on earth, with a big fat bill.

But no worries, the nameless and faceless internet collective known as Anonymous is hoping to give them a kick in the rear end. Incidentally, anyone who'd like to have a good time and battle an evil cult at the same time can head to http://youfoundthecard.com/ for info about how to join in the fun world saving.

-An Anon

Anonymous said...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

green_knight said...

I get a dating site, Air Tightness Testing for homes in Yorkshire, Environment Publications, and 'Need a Regeneration Job'? in the ads. Which, for a post that frequently mentions Amazon as well as a movie star by name seems decidedly odd.

I don't like sleazy unauthorised biographies. Heck, I don't think the lives of most celebrities are halfway interesting enough to be put on paper, let alone marketed to none-fans. One sleazy book not carried is fine. Lots of things aren't, particularly US editions. But if there's a trend to carry or not carry books falling into a specific group, it needs to be brought out into the open.

Right now, Amazon is in my bad books over the POD thing anyway. (At the very least... Amazon owns *two* POD services, but will allow, for purposes of ultimatum, people to set up only with the expensive one.)

Nancy Matson said...

Isn't this more about how libel doesn't really apply to a group but a person? Tom C can sue someone for what he perceives as libel against himself, but I don't *think* he can do it on behalf of all scientologists (although I'm sure any organized group can apply pressure in other ways.)

As an individual person you can't sue the author of a book that you feel attacks your religion, or country, or gender, or what have you, because I think libel and slander are individual specific. That's why people wait until celebs are dead sometimes to write about them. You can't even sue on someone else's behalf. (Even if you are the son/daughter of the party involved.)

S.F.W. said...

In J.K.'s defence, what she's been doing the past few months is trying to write a HP guide herself. The HP Lexicon are going to beat her to it.

On the other hand, I think she's got the worst laywers in the world if they are milking her for money in this case.

She will lose. Big time. There is no copyright infringement in a guide book. It's a work of scholarly interest. You can write criticism/a guide to etc... You just can't claim the original work as your own.

Trademark infringement... maybe. But again... Fair use comes into it.

J.K. will lose. Money, reputation etc. I just hope she has the sense to realise that people will buy her guide, no matter what. They might be tempted to buy the Lexicon's one, but they'll be sure to buy hers - even if both are on the market at the same time. Who wouldn't wan to see her insights into her own world? Insights the Lexicon can't touch?

She should stop this now.

Anonymous said...

What are these anti-Semitic books that are written by former Presidents?

I hope you're not referring to Carter's book, but this is the only book I can think of that matches your description.

It's rather cheapening to refer to a book as racist because it includes reporting and phrasing you don't like. There's a far cry from that kind of silliness and actual anti-Semitism.

Ady said...

Okay, this is the content of the lexicon: http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b281/notmonica/rowlingpiechart.jpg

Most of the time, the text that is Rowling's isn't even attributed, through quotes or otherwise. There is almost NO critical text of any kind, and most of what is there is badly researched and even wrong. Yes, she said kudos to the website because hey, why not support your fans? But when they start trying to make money from it, that's stupid and wrong. And frankly, it doesn't matter how much money Rowling has or how popular her books are, NO ONE has the right to steal an author's text for profit. Rowling strongly supports works that actually discuss and critique her books; she doesn't support something that simply regurgitates it.

And fyi, Rowling isn't suing the crying 50-year-old man. She's suing the publisher that was stupid enough to think they could get away with it.

As for Amazon, while it is sick and wrong, Nancy Matson is probably right.

nekokazuki said...

As an Anonymous and a writer, I give you a hats-off for this post. I read the blog already, but it's always great to see the message spreading about the cruelty and downright oppressive evil of Scientology.

So. Hats off to you. (And I totally adore the blog.)

The Rejecter said...

For anyone still following this thread, Amazon.com is also now censoring negative reviews of Scientology books.

http://glosslip.com/2008/04/18/more-scientology-censoring-amazoncom-review-guidelines-disallow-critics-of-authors-or-their-intentions/

Anonymous said...

If it'll make you feel better, Amazon.de (the German division) doesn't sell many (any?) anti-semitic books, because it's illegal in Germany. Especially the Holocaust denial books.

Back in the 1990s, Armey Archard, the Daily Variety columnist, made a stink when he noticed that some anti-semitic books were selling on Amazon.de. He pointed out in his column that it was illegal to sell such books in Germany, and Amazon.de pulled (i.e., censored) those books.

Anonymous said...

You have won this round, Scientilogy, but the 75 million-year-old struggle for Planet Teegeeack goes on! Hail Xenu!

Question, Rejecter: Amazon.com.uk has all those anti-Jewish/anti-Semitic screeds; do they also have the anti-Catholic screeds like Hislop's Two Babylons, Boettner's Roman Catholicism, Chiniquy's Forty Years in the Church of Rome, Alberto Rivera, and/or Maria Monk? While these never achieved the body count of the infamous Protocols, they are every bit as vicious -- and factually accurate.

Anonymous said...

I find it awfully freaky that I can't read an Anti-Scientology book. I was on a "cult kick" in my reading and I searched for a first person account of the Scientology world. Only one title appeared, Escaping Scientology. The problem was it never became available.

I poked around the web a bit and found xenu.net. They have links to first person stories and the reading was pretty fascinating. Still, the censorship really just creates a stronger thirst for the reading material.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh, what an antisemiticnaziextremist that Jimmy Carter was to suggest Palestinians have human rights or some understandable motive for striking out at the Jews.

Oy! the hatred!